Very Effective Surprise Ad


surprise ad

Some ads use humor, some surprise you with a twist… Take a look at this ad and see if you can guess what the product is before the end.

This commercial makes amazing use of surprise to startle the viewers and make a strong brand impression. A secondary neuromarketing ploy is the scary imagery. I’m not sure if this Exorcist parody is really frightening enough to generate a fear response in some viewers, but if it did we might see an additional brand recall boost. (See Fear Factor Branding.)

  1. Mariah Sayer says

    I found this ad most disturbing (could only watch the first 30 sec with volume on low, the rest in silence), and wished I’d never seen it! I hope this ad doesn’t go out for general TV viewing, nor will I ever buy from the brand advertised.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      I suspect this was intended more for online/viral distribution, though I don’t know that for a fact, Mariah. (I’m guessing The Exorcist isn’t on your top ten classic films list…) The downside of edgy or unusual content is that you risk alienating some portion of the audience.


  2. Linda Jackson says

    I thought the ad was clever, but took much too long to set the scene. If you hadn’t encouraged me to figure out what the brand might be (security systems, insurance, church, long term care facility, a new scary movie trailer), I would have clicked away at about 30 seconds because it was so dark and depressing.

  3. Nathan Tothrow says

    Bear in mind that this ad was created for European audiences where the tolerance for longer commercials is greater. It was directed by Andreas Roth for German TV (not sure of the agency) and I believe it is already airing.

    I would agree that they could have probably shaved a few seconds off the development of the theme without ruing the concept, but I thought it was a masterful example of leading the audience through a deep negative emotion (fear) and then punctuating with a sudden, humorous reveal that invariably produces quick exhalation of laughter. This would quickly reduce the stress brought on by the cinematic opening and leave the viewer with a strong positive sensation. The humorous return with the unplugging and “whoomp” from the girl add greatly to the humor. I thought is was a masterful job of neuromarketing.

    I have done some experimentation with physiological profiles of people watching TV commercials using a polygraph and I would love to test this spot! Thanks for sharing. — Nathan

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Thanks for the detailed comment, Nathan. Great insights!


  4. Thomas says

    I suggest the ad is to good/real to work.

    What medium (pun intended), ie, cinema/tv/internet and which target audience was this ad made for? My parents in their 60s find “Pirates of the Caribbean” to nerve wrecking to watch (I’m not joking!), so they wouldn’t survive the first part. The old lady using the vac may not appeal to the younger crowd to identify with sufficiently to want to buy the product. I’d make the first part funny to start with to remove some of the tension as the release at the end is not strong enough to compensate for the intense HQ setup.


    1. Roger Dooley says

      Interesting point, Thomas. I wonder, too, about the demographics of the “Exorcist” references. No doubt every Boomer has seen it, but is the imagery as instantly familiar to younger viewers? Or does it work even if you haven’t seen any of the movies?


  5. Mirko Leppänen says

    As an advertising creative, I’ve been wondering about the lasting brand perception of commercials structured like the Dirt Devil ad (90% negative + 10% positive).

    When in store, making decision over which brand to choose, would the negative 90% of the commercial’s content affect your subconscious preference more than the positive 10%?

    1. Roger Dooley says

      Good question, Mirko. The scary part of the ad certainly isn’t a “feel good” scene, and it seems possible some of that might stick to the brand. On the other hand, the final payoff is funny, breaks the tension, and implies amazing vacuum power. Testing would be the only way to answer this question.


  6. Paul S says

    Keep up the great work Roger – we are all learning a ton about neuromarketing from your efforts – much appreciated

  7. valentino says

    Excellent Ad concept and delivery. I was pulled all the way in and then was dropped along with the girl from the ceiling. I really liked the muffled “thump” landing at the end.

    BRILLIANT!! And now I will forever see Dirt Devil in a Hilarious light…with proof of sucktion power as well. HA!

  8. Caroline Winnett says

    My amygdala was firing through the roof. What a great concept! It made me scared, then made me laugh. Those emotions will help me remember that ad for a long time.

  9. David Brains says

    Haha, brilliant commercial! Definitely better than 98% of those ‘standard’ commercials out there. I doubt this is allowed on TV though, it might be a bit too much for small kids.

  10. Carmen Zaarouri says

    Clever commercial! concept/making off. However the scene was too dark and depressing and loud! not to mention the length of the clip, it should have been shorter! And the target audience! I wouldn’t see my mother/grandmother enjoying such an add.The commercial started out provoking fear/disturbance, however it ended up putting a smile on my face! Personally I would rather watching an entertaining commercial but it was a cool clip!

  11. Wayne Lo says

    The ad took too long to get to the clever part. It should have started from the woman screaming in pain while the priest opening the door.

    1. Roger Dooley says

      It did take a while to develop. I guess there’s a tradeoff between creating the mood and building tension vs. risking losing people’s interest. I suppose they figured it was intriguing enough that not many people would look away. I think the funny payoff is amplified by the wait to get there.


  12. Harry Beckwith says

    It’s a cinema ad, almost certainly flighted to appear with frightening movies for mature audiences. Think Shutter Island.

    So the length of the buildup works with a cinema audience, particularly its specific audience, and it’s also makes a brilliant mnemonic link between the commercial’s theme and the product advertised–a Dirt Devil.

    If it’s not brilliant, no commercial is. Take any of the classics–FedEx’s fast talker, Apple’s 1984, Coke’s Mean Go Green, or a loved modern spot like VW’s Darth Vader; this has to rank with or above any of them for impact, memorabiltiy, and a memorable communication of the product’s benefit.

  13. MediaMate says

    I would definitely agree that setting up the commercial took a bit too long, and it did seem depressing at first. But the end made the commercial hilarious and well worth the wait. It’s a creative ad that will draw some customers to the brand (even if some find it disturbing).

  14. Jon says

    I am now more emotionally connected/loyal to the Dirt Devil than the Dyson. My affection for Dyson has lasted years so I am suprised I can be disloyal so quickly (although perhaps my loyalty was already waning). BUT when I next purchase a vacuum cleaner it will be a Henry as my youngest son loves them. He already has toy Henrys in 2 sizes. Influencing my 3-year old is more important than influencing me. Plus, influencing my son impacts the grand parents too.

  15. Crystal says

    The whole commercial is great despite of the length of the opening.
    As for Hong Kong the TVD is usually expensive and I’m afraid people here may not have the patience for waiting too long.
    Suggestions, would be much humor if with a voice stating the strength of the vacum.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.