Please forgive me while I interrupt you for a few minutes
A recent blog post from my friend Asi has inspired me to speak out against some of the propaganda spouted by digital agencies. Over the last few years I’ve been hearing digital people declaring “Interruptive advertising is dead! The future is all about brand engagement!”. They would say it to all of their clients. They would say it to their staff. And they’d say it to each other like some life affirming declaration of victory. The future was surely theirs!
As someone with an above-the-line heritage, this always rankled with me slightly. I could see the sense in it but it just seemed too grand and sweeping a statement. The ‘interruptive’ route is still the best option for a lot of brands. There are some brands you actually don’t want to engage with. And – to be blunt – I’ve never encountered anything quite as f&^%ing annoyingly interruptive as an expandable banner, an overlay or a pop-up.
You see, I think this interruption issue is a bit of a red herring. As Asi points out, there are good interruptions and bad interruptions. It’s a phone call from a friend versus an automated call from a double glazing company. Or your best mate turning up at your door with a big homemade cake versus a couple of Mormons trying to save your soul. It’s all about how much of an emotional reward you get out of the interruption, surely.
And moving onto the other side of the argument, why do digital people think they are the only ones capable of doing engagement? Lots of traditional advertising over the years has been incredibly engaging. I remember imitating the Smash robots in the playground at school. I remember doing the ‘phut phut phut’ noises of a coffee percolator just like the TV ad. I remember schoolkids perforating eardrums when they ‘Tangoed‘ each other. All of these are perfect examples of brand engagement. That’s what happens when marketing activity gets into people’s minds and becomes part of our culture.
Please, my digital friends, stop seeing this as an ‘us and them’ situation. It’s not like that now. It’s about doing great work that’s rewarding for the right audience. And picking the right media to put it. Sometimes that’s online and sometimes it just happens to be a TV ad.
Now let’s shake hands and play nicely.
What do you think? Please interrupt me with your thoughts.