The Rise of Interruption. Marketing?

It’s been quite a week for those that seek to get attention by interrupting hasn’t it?

Of course, last week it was the clear break with decorum and most likely Congressional rules when Representative Joe Wilson (no relation…phew!) saw fit to interrupt the President during a speech to Congress. His “You lie!” is still echoing in Washington and across all types of media.

More recently, a well marinated Kanye West decided that Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the VMA’s was a good time to profess his love for Beyonce’s latest video and proceeded to take the stage and the mic. This alone tested Twitter’s limits.

Both participants in these rude interruptions have addressed their behavior in varying ways. Wilson apologized to the President, but as of this writing, not to Congress. He has used it as a rallying cry for his stand on health care and seems to be quite comfortable being interviewed about it, though he admits that it was not the right way to act.

Kanye on the other hand, after being escorted from the MTV awards show, first posted a rambling and confusing blog post of an apology. He then took the opportunity to be even more apologetic and sincere during The Jay Leno Show premiere. (Jay stepped up with a great question about how Kanye’s late mother would have felt about it. Let’s talk dramatic pause.)

The reaction of the masses has varied for each incident. Joe Wilson, as well as his 2010 political opponent have seen huge increases in fund-raising. On the other hand Kanye has seen a huge backlash from fans and non-fans alike and I’m sure recognizes the potential harm to his career and sales.

But is this indicative of what it takes to cut through the clutter of so many messages and the 24/7, always on, always connected environment we find ourselves in? For better or worse, this exemplifies the phrase “Any publicity is good publicity.” So, if we are constantly being exposed to “messages” then perhaps we will see a rise in thought out tactical use of the “interruption” and a redefinition of interruption marketing. This form of marketing that really is an interruption unlike say, commercials that are now expected and pop-ups that are commonplace. If so, then beware the backlash.

What about the buzz? Yes, we are talking about these interruptions so they are creating buzz. But at the same time, in varying degrees, they are taking a toll. That toll is being exacted in many ways. Beyond the concept of “That’s not the way we do things in a civil society.”, which does have incredible validity, marketers run the risk of biting the hand that feeds them should interruption be the marketing of tactic of the day.

Now that social media is prevalent and the ability to share your feelings, especially negative ones, is so easy, the window of mea culpa is incredibly small. Time does not allow for the repair of a bad tactic. In the past the practice of airing too many commercials may have caused some problems for listeners but the ability to complain to friends about it was much more contained. Now, one ‘tweet’ will reach thousands…if not hundreds of thousands in mere seconds.

Interruption can get people talking about you…but it can also get them talking badly about you.

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