‘A Little Surprise’

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6th Nov, 2023

 In my childhood, we grew up with a toothpaste brand called Binaca & in those days, if a little kid or a pretty woman flashed a smile, people would quickly brand it a ‘Binaca smile.’

Binaca was a rather popular toothpaste brand in those days. It came in a blue and white—or was it blue and yellow pack and held out the promise of strong teeth, healthy gums & a Binaca smile.

What’s more, every pack had a surprise gift inside, a little plastic animal figurine & a different one in every pack.

I still vividly recall the sense of expectation and surprise, as we opened the pack to pull out a new animal, a new surprise, time after time!

It wasn’t unusual to visit a friend’s place and find a mini-zoo in the showcase, courtesy Binaca. We’d trade duplicates, discuss our newest additions, admire the wonderful new giraffe—and never cease to be enthralled by those teeny-weeny plastic animals.

While the Binaca folks delivered consistent, good quality toothpaste,  the trick really lay in the surprise gift.

That little animal figurine probably cost the toothpaste manufacturer very little, but meant so much to consumers.

It held the magic of surprise!

Brushing your teeth, with Binaca or anything else, was drudgery, but the joy of opening a Binaca pack to see the animal tucked inside was incomparable & still brings a smile.

In our lives, we now tend to do everything in a programmed manner, and tend to miss out on the zing, the surprise element, the little animal in the box.

At work, we expect consistency, dependability, and solid performances from our team.

Throw in a little extra, and you will soon be on the fast track.

Ask yourself, what’s your little animal figurine that you are giving?

As customers, we’re like that too. We want a dependable brand & consistent quality & yet, we like to be surprised.

With our loved ones too, we would do well to go beyond the routine and come up with a little surprise here and there.

Anniversary dinners are great, but are predictable. Try taking your wife out for lunch on a busy working day instead—just like that. Or take all your kid’s friends out for a drive uphill or a treat at the movies.

Little surprises can be quite magical in their impact.

Delivering toothpaste of consistent quality is good but seldom good enough. Success comes when

you combine dependability and awe, predictability and surprise.

The surprise can never be a substitute for dependability but it makes for a wonderful value-add.

For bosses, for clients, for loved ones, we all need to come up with little plastic animals. Remember, these freebies don’t cost much but they make a huge difference.

I remember a short movie circulated on social media some year back during Diwali, where the protagonist surprises the road side vendors & some others by giving them a Rs 1000 note & the look on their face was to be seen to be believed. He then exhorted the viewers to do the same & surprise at least one needy person in the festive season.

The short clip I remember made our eyes moist & gave goosebumps.

This festive season,

Pick up the phone and speak to a friend you haven’t spoken to in years. Send little thank you notes to your colleagues.

Send a piece of that homemade cake to that neighbour- you-don’t-always-meet.

Give a surprise gift to your clients, take your team out for a Diwali Lunch.

Surprise the needy by giving them a bonanza.

If you didn’t do any of these, no one would notice. But if you do, they’d never forget!

Go for it, create your own surprise animal-in-the-box, bring back the Binaca smile for your loved ones & others this Festive season & stay blessed forever.