Genius? Or Devious?

Toy stores in USA hit upon this method to boost sales after the peak of Christmas season. Read on and decide if it was a stroke of genius or downright deviousness.

Imagine this. You have exhausted the toy budget for your little son at the Festive Season. Naturally, you are pretty smug that you won’t need to make another trip to the toy store anytime soon.

This is the challenge that toy stores in USA were grappling with – a sudden slump in sales post Christmas. Their solution: They advertised the hell out of a new toy and got kids crazy for it. Parents ended up promising the kids that they will get that particular toy for them. But when they reached the store, they are told that the toy has sold out. Out of sheer guilt, they buy something of same value or perhaps even more. The kid is happy… for now.

A few weeks later comes another ad that the toy is now back in stores. The kid sees the ad and pesters the parent – “you promised”, “you promised”. The parent, not wanting to seem like a person who don’t keep their commitments trudge back to the toy store to buy the toy, instantly doubling the store’s turnover per customer.

The tactic not only leverages the strategy of artificially created shortages, but also exploit the human psychology of keeping promises (especially to loved ones).

Genius? Or Devious? What do you think?

Here’s a tried and tested way to get your brand noticed…


Don’t be surprised. Even if your brand is successful and your audience has certain set expectations, it pays to surprise them once in a while to delight them and keep your competition at bay.

About a decade back, Kleenex partnered with Facebook to provide care kits to people who were down with flu or cold. They simply searched Facebook for status updates where the users reported feeling sick. Then they used their connections to find out their mailing address, and hand delivered a Get-well-soon Kleenex Kit, complete with boxes of tissues. Do you think the audience ever expected it? Do you think they will ever forget the brand from then on? In fact, all those who received the kits flooded FB with messages about this gesture.

Closer home, HUL used this out of the box strategy at the last Maha Kumbh Mela at Haridwar.

They integrated their brand Lifebuoy in their roti maker to create not just a surprising reminder, but a perfectly timed one too.

According to me, the most legendary surprise was this recruitment ad by google:

Google is known for their quirky communication, but this recruitment ad still beat the heck out of everyone. But those who understood it and had the skill to decode it arrived at the recruitment page of the company. Quite ingenious, since Google is not interested in your formal education, but only what you can actually do.

So, is your brand surprising your customers enough to keep them interested?