It seems that there are no surprises anymore. People tell each other exactly what they want for gifts, and gift cards have become the de facto standard so that the recipient can purchase exactly what she wants. Where’s the surprise in that?! What happened to the thrill of shaking the box wrapped in shiny paper, trying to guess what might be inside? And the joy lighting the recipient’s face when unwrapping something so unimaginably exciting? Not to mention the quiet satisfaction the giver feels when having given the perfect gift without having been told in advance?
And with the advent of targeted internet advertising? Forget it. Anything I’ve ever looked at online – vegetable shredders, soap molds, kayaks, you name it — shows up in ads on every other page I look at. If my child checks weather.com this week, he’ll see ads for Call of Duty video games and “Here Comes the Boom!” DVDs because that’s what I’ve been looking at. With his birthday less than a month away, will it really be a surprise when he unwraps his gifts, after having been given a sneak preview by targeted ads?
Recently, I participated in another celebrity group gifting opportunity through The Artisan Group. Unlike with previous opportunities, though, this time we were not told who the recipient would be. It was a surprise! To help us target our gifts, we were basically told that the recipient was in her early 20’s and was a worldwide multi-platinum rock star. Additionally, her crew and band would also receive gifts.
I’ll be honest – the surprise factor added a level of complexity for me. I design my soaps based on something. Maybe I’m going for a certain look, and need to find a fragrance to fit. Or I have a fragrance in mind, but need a look for it. When participating in the Cannes Film Festival, I based my design on the fact that Cannes is in France and came up with a water lilies soap intended to evoke images of Monet. Not knowing the identity of the rock-star recipient temporarily threw me for a loop. But then the fun began. I went with black and gold and silver – edgy, glitzy, glammy, rock-starry – in a unisex fragrance fitting for the female superstar and both her male and female band and crew members. Packaged it up, shipped it out, and began the several-week wait to learn the identity of the mystery VIP.
The mystery lent such an air of suspense and excitement! This morning, my fellow artisan gifters and I learned the identity of the star – Selena Gomez – and joy lit our faces! After her sold-out concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles last night, she and her band and crew attended an after-party backstage where they received our handcrafted products. Were we surprised? Oh yes! Was it that much more exciting to not know in advance and be surprised? Yes, yes, yes! Don’t undersell the art of being surprised!