Top 5 Surprise and Delight Campaigns and Tips For Doing Your Own

Surprise and delight campaigns could be your secret sauce, whether you’re looking to gain traction on social media, leave your customers feeling seen and heard or simply want to spread goodness into the world.. Let’s  look at some of the big brands that do it best and share a few tips and tricks for agencies looking to create their own magic moments. 

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Mastercard is well-known when it comes to its viral campaigns of goodwill. The holiday campaign, delivering a truckload of love to grassroots toy drives in different communities, really hits you. Not only is it a genius marketing move to release feel-good, highly shareable content during a season when the world is typically more receptive, it’s also doing a lot of good. Who wouldn’t want to be one of those Mastercard employees, wrapping up pallets of gifts and dropping them off where they’re needed most. 


Here’s another big brand shining bright in the world of surprise and delight. The company launched  Feel Good by Kleenex with great success. The team at Kleenex started by scouring Facebook for status updates of users who were feeling ill. After contacting family and friends for address information, a Kleenex kit filled with get-well items was delivered to their doorstep within hours. The campaign generated more than 650,000 impressions and resulted in 1,800 interactions between the brand and social-media users.


During a time when many people around the world are still unable to get together with friends, family, and neighbours for a simple cup of coffee, Nescafé’s Nextdoor Hello, feels like a campaign that could easily happen under today’s social distancing guidelines. There’s something about a warm drink, a friendly smile and exchange of kindness with your neighbour that we can all relate to. 


Canadian airline company WestJet got it right by encouraging passengers to give their Christmas wish list to Santa, through a virtual, live meet-and-greet before boarding their flight. Much to travellers’ delight, a team of shoppers had been busy gathering all of those gifts while the flight was up in the air. When the plane touched down and passengers proceeded to baggage claim, their wish list items were right there waiting. 


A 7-year-old boy was on the receiving end of Lego’s goodwill after he wrote to the company, asking for a new figure when he accidentally lost his Ninjago character during a grocery store trip with his dad. Lego responded with input from brand character Sensei Wu, sending the young boy a one-of-a-kind replacement we’re sure he still treasures to this day. 

Why Surprise and Delight Works 

These campaigns are all examples of how great PR can boost brand awareness, bolster customer loyalty, and create meaningful moments with viral potential and a ripple effect of  impact. In a LoyaltyOne survey, 95 percent of respondents said they were left with a positive perception of the company or brand behind a surprise and delight promotion. 

In the Kleenex campaign, 100 percent of recipients posted a photo of the positive interaction on their social feeds. Every single person was so delighted they immediately became a brand advocate. Advocacy is worth its weight in marketing gold, with 90 percent of consumers trusting suggestions from family and friends, and 93 percent of consumers saying that online reviews influenced their purchase decisions. 

You don’t need a multi-million dollar marketing budget to execute a strategy at the agency level and for the clients you serve. Here are ways brands can leverage similar tactics to generate goodwill and create more brand advocates on a local level:  

Ideas to Kickstart Your Own Campaign

  • Write a handwritten note. You may know your customer recently had a new baby or they’ve been going through a rough patch getting their small business off the ground. Handwritten messages show you care about what’s going on in their lives on a personal level, and that they have your support in tackling any challenges.


  • Host a giveaway on social. Not only will it allow you to gift an awesome prize to someone who’s already a brand advocate or at least one in the making, by building in a requirement for tagging other friends in the comments you reach an audience beyond those who already follow you. Check out some guidelines for launching a Facebook giveaway here.


  • Make a meaningful connection. The Nescafé campaign did a great job of this. Interpersonal connections are one of the most powerful interactions we have as human beings and if you can make those moments happen you may come out of it a hero. Perhaps you volunteer to mentor a group of students in a field you’re passionate about, or recommend that a real estate client should help out in their local Habitat for Humanity shelter. These are ways to give back to people in your community and grow new connections and relationships.   


  • Celebrate birthdays. Send a special discount code to a customer on his or her birthday or even a card and small gift for higher-touch clients. Acknowledging special days like birthdays and anniversaries goes a long way toward building brand loyalty. If you don’t have a lot of extra time or live far from a client - try these e-gift card suggestions. 


  • Don’t forget about your team. Your staff are some of your best advocates. Employers who apply these same surprise and delight tactics on their employees are sure to create an army of brand ambassadors who know your business from the inside out. Springing for a work lunch on a Friday or offering frequent and meaningful recognition will encourage good work and excellent outreach, too. Workspaces like the ones at Google, Salesforce, and Facebook have strong and unique company cultures that go above and beyond when it comes to taking care of the people who work there. 


About the Author

Nicole Lauzon is a Content Marketing Manager at Vendasta and has spent the last decade of her career helping local businesses tell their stories. Kickstarting her professional journey as a writer and producer for a major Canadian television network, Nicole would later spend five years as a PR Agency Creative Director, managing brand journalism, social media, blog and video content for corporate, non-profit and local business clients. Whether Nicole is marinating over her next piece of writing or enjoying some down time with her family, she likes doing it in floral print.

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