Raise a Pint to Unexpectedness

It’s rare to catch me watching a commercial.

But somehow, between DVR, my kids, Twitter and all the emails in my inbox, there I was, feeling affected by 60 seconds of brilliance. Don’t think it can happen to you? Then watch below:

The genius of this ad comes from a principle known as unexpectedness. It uses a surprise to get our attention, and then it holds our interest.

Specifically, it’s an example of "Crystalize and Break," a technique highlighted by Chip and Dan Heath in their book, Made to Stick. You begin by crystalizing a traditional schema – describing and setting up all the elements of something that people will recognize.

Melancholy music. Wheelchair basketball players high-fiving. Sweating. Competing. It’s either an athletic association or possibly the Marine Corps.

Then, you break it.

The moment where you see the guys on the court rise from their wheelchairs. Except for that one…

Wow. I didn’t see that one coming. But I wanted to see where they were going, what was next. How could I be that kind of friend? The surprise got my attention, and the emotion really kept me engaged. That’s why “Crystalize and Break” works so well.

You can elicit this same level of interest in business and in your personal life.

Try it. Be intentional about it.

If you do, tell me about it in the comments.

And I’ll raise a Guinness to you.


4 thoughts on “Raise a Pint to Unexpectedness
  1. Ben,
    Great post and a great commercial (apart from the fact that it’s done by Guinness — one of the best beers on the planet). I’m curious as to your (and other San Franciscans’) thoughts about the Google barge. We east coasters are hearing bits and pieces about it – and there was a great segment on NPR about it this morning.
    It is certainly generating a ton of buzz (and it even has an interesting twitter feed to boot).

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