The Big Reveal

So, after months of keeping us guessing, Danny Boyle has finally been able to reveal what’s in store for us this evening when the team of volunteers, performers and public servants finally take centre stage for the Olympics opening ceremony. Putting a film director in charge – and one who is famously a man of the people – was a stroke of genius and I, for one, cannot wait to see what’s in store, but there is more genius at play here than the contents of the show itself. The real genius element can be summed up in one word….anticipation.  Even those who are not especially interested in the Games have been intrigued to know what’s in store for the opening ceremony because it has been such a closely guarded secret.  Even in the post-Twitter, Post-Facebook, user-generated content world, keeping the ceremony under wraps it has not only been possible to keep the system under wraps; it has become a matter of national pride. And the suspense continues, with Mr Boyle still keeping some details very much up his sleeve to wow us on the night.

We can admire the planning that’s gone into keeping this big secret, but more than anything I admire the total understanding of those involved in the power of the big reveal. Too many spoilers in advance would have made the opening ceremony old news by the time it happened, whereas now the world is waiting to see the event with bated breath and find out what extra surprises will be involved.

The same approach should be applied with any event – including product launches, news announcements and special offers. The secret of success is not just in getting the content right, but in getting the timing right too.  After all, who will be excited about a product that they’ve known all about for ages by the time it’s actually available?… that time they will have moved on to the next big thing.

The Olympics has been one long marketing exercise and, while it might not all have been a best practice guide, the anticipation that has been built up over the opening ceremony and timely reveal have been a master stroke. It’s a lesson we can all learn from: prime your stakeholders that something is coming, help them get excited about it and then hit them with the big reveal when the time is right.  All too often, companies try to deliver a PR campaign when they have nothing to say or launch a new corporate identity before the new website is built.  Instead, they should take a leaf out of Mr Boyle’s book and get all the ducks lined up before shouting ‘shoot’!