Planned Spontaneity – a term coined by trendwatching.com in their report from December 2003. When I first came across it I truly believed that it was an idea based on a powerful human truth that had the potential to deliver a compelling brand experience. In fact it was only last month I was thinking along those lines for an airline new business pitch. Coincidentally when I saw KLM deliver surprise the way they did I was…pleasantly surprised.
So what is ‘Planned Spontaneity’ anyway? If we look back at our lives I think all of us would recall some happy moment that occurred rather unexpectedly. It was either one that was completely unplanned, a random act of spontaneity or the product of a dear ones labor of love to give us a surprise and carve out an unforgettable memory. In other words – ‘Planned Spontaneity’. Applied to branding and marketing a surprise is a great way to create an emotional and an engaging brand experience.
Why the KLM Surprise inspires me is the “real time” factor. With the kind of technology and tools available today the time between research and execution has sharply narrowed down to real time events. Not so long ago research would take months to execute and analyze. The translation of an insight to ideas would be a long tedious process. After many rounds of presentations the idea would be approved and sent for execution in the form of some mass media. In the real-time era things are happening at lightning speed and on the go! The KLM team was tracking Twitter feeds and Foursquare check-ins in real time to see who was travelling KLM and is around at the airport waiting to board. Using the tweets or a check-in as a starting point the team would quickly scan the users social profile and come up with a surprise gift idea which would then be bought and delivered instantly to the passenger at their likely gate of departure! Amazing stuff. Check out the video below.
This is another great example of how to use social media. I think the key lesson for marketers is to to track social media conversations in real time and create a system to deliver an instantaneous response. We saw this happen with Old Spice and we are seeing it here again! Have you come across other acts of ‘Planned Spontaneity’ using social media from other brands? Feel free to share you thoughts in the comments below.