Rolex invested in technology with TED to help viewers easily discover new ideas, connecting the brand with a global and socially conscious audience. TED and Rolex’s collaboration to develop “Surprise Me,” the hugely popular iOS app, reflected Rolex’s commitment to investing in technology to better the world - and cleverly plays off of the notion of keeping time.

Rolex: "Surprise me" window on various devices

TED and Rolex have worked together since 2007 to underwrite the development of innovative TED media platforms. Rolex was one of the first TED partners to create original branded content specific to the platform – a three-minute video that highlighted its history of design and innovation, which ran as advertising targeted against TED Talks on the same topics.

As the TED and Rolex partnership evolved, both organizations worked together to craft the “Surprise Me” feature for iOS, which serves up TEDTalks in free custom playlists, created on demand. “Surprise Me” factors in talk length, user ratings and the age of each talk to create the playlists. For instance, a viewer with time for 40 minutes of jaw-dropping talks may receive a combination of 18-, 6- and 3-minute talks recently rated “jaw-dropping.”

At TED, we are always adapting to people’s changing media habits. Rolex helps some of the busiest people in the world keep time, dependably. As a long-time TED partner, Rolex was able to contribute to the brainstorming stage of our iOS app with our common target audience in mind – an intellectually curious global citizen with limited time. With Rolex’s help, we created “Surprise Me” to meet the needs of users who have a set amount of free time, but might not know what to watch.

By asking visitors what they’re in the mood for – rather than what subject they’re interested in – this feature can introduce them to a wide range of topics, from biology to cartooning. Thanks to support from Rolex, TED was able to further its mission to spark curiosity and help people discover ideas worth spreading.

How to connect: Email Lisa Choi Owens - Head of Global Partnerships, at

We created Surprise Me to meet the needs of people who have a set amount of free time but might not know what to watch. They just know their lunch break lasts 20 minutes, and they want to be wowed. We take it from there.
June Cohen, Executive Producer of Media, TED