If you believe the powerpoint charts of the many speakers at the various marketing trade shows, then we're experiencing the end of the era of "advertising breaks" and the rise of the era of "connection marketing". That begs the question:
- How do you build a connection with someone if you don't interrupt them first to get their attention? Or have consumers recently been spellbound by their Facebook or Instagram eagerly awaiting the next step in their relationship with the chocolate bar brand they love?
- Do we really have to be so ashamed of our interruptions that we prefer to cleverly invent new terms such as "engagement marketing" instead of thinking about how to interrupt people in a smarter and more bearable way?
People are not waiting for our messages. Or even long for a deep relationship with us. Because they're busy with something more important: their lives. Whether we like it or not, brands have to interrupt people in their lives. And in such a way that they do not finally block us in anger but rather give us permission to continue to tell them our stories.
Bertolt Brecht, the most important German theater dramaturge of the 20th century, it was not only permissible to interrupt its audience. For him, interruptions were absolutely necessary to implement his idea of theater. For Bertolt Brecht, theater was meant to lead people to new ways of thinking and acting. And not, as before, just enjoyment in a comfortable chair. So Brecht had his actors speak directly to the audience, letting them run around in the auditorium, changing their characters during the play, and so on. All these were interruptions to the usual routine of the theater. And served the purpose of keeping the audience awake. To keep awake for the message of the piece, which they then take home instead of forgetting after the last curtain.
Stop with the hiding!
We, as brand experts, have learned nothing from Brecht. Or don't want to. We're not good at positive interruption. And because advertising breaks in any form just do not enjoy the best reputation and we secretly as the responsible persons are perhaps even a little ashamed of it. We just pretend that we don't even need to interrupt. After all, only bad advertising is an interruption. And "native" advertising, content and engagement marketing and whatever the other little piglets are called, who are hunted through the marketing village every day, are something completely different.
An almost revolutionary idea: What if we stopped hiding behind newer and newer concepts to cover up our intermittent shame? And instead, with good insights and good ideas for what the brands entrusted to us expect from us: to be welcome and liked as lifelong interrupters? Because only then have we earned the attention of our target groups. And given our brands the chance to tell their story successfully.
Ingrid Bergmann once stated that "kissing is a lovable trick of nature, interrupting a conversation when words become superfluous!" Maybe advertising just has to learn to "kiss" better. As a reward, it would then allowed to do all the other nice things with nice names.
Now please excuse this short break.