Ellie Goulding Shocks Superfans With a Perfectly Played ‘Priceless Surprise’ for MasterCard

Yes, the feel-good celebrity prank still works

Headshot of Tim Nudd

There's one form of prank advertisement that will surely survive long after all the telekinetic coffee-shop surprises and sentient vending machines have faded away. And that is the celebrity-surprising-the-superfan video. 

It's irresistible. We've written about so many of them over the years—our favorite is probably the one David Beckham did for Adidas around the London Olympics in 2012. They just never get old. Fans are shuttled someplace, blatantly lied to about what's going on, and then get shocked, in a good way, when the celeb—their favorite celeb, of course—suddenly appears out of nowhere.

Without fail, tears are shed. And dammit if you don't find yourself grinning stupidly at the screen every time. It's both an embarrassment and a triumph, and succeeds like clockwork.

Here's the latest one from the U.K.: Ellie Goulding for MasterCard. Best friends Martha and Lucy, 20-year-old students at King's College, were falsely told they were recording a cover of Goulding's new track "Army" for a documentary about music superfans.

But of course, they were in for a surprise.

The spot, by McCann London, is part of MasterCard's "Priceless Surprises" campaign and celebrates the 2016 BRIT Awards. Goulding and other artists, including Mark Ronson, are taking part in surprises and gigs, helping MasterCard cardholders share their love of music.


Agency: McCann London

Chief Creative Officers: Rob Doubal, Laurence Thomson

Creative Directors: Matt Crabtree, Simon Hepton

Creatives: Matt Crabtree, Simon Hepton, Jean-Laurent Py

Managing Partner: Tom Bedwell

Business Lead: Oliver Morgan

Account Manager: Lauren Benezra

Planning Partner: Karen Crum

Project Director: Metz Fasano

Production Company: Craft London

Director: Blake Claridge

Head of Production: Sergio Lopez

Senior Producer: Zara Balfour

Line Producer: Ben Greenacre

Director of Photography: Berndt Wiese

Sound Recordists: Kieron Wolfson, Andy Gleed

Editor: Max Downey, Phil Conway at Craft

Sound Mix: Tim Sutton at Craft

Grade: Framestore

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.