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Brand Ignition: Interruptive Communication

It’s time for advertisers, the media and consumers to feel “Sorry for the Interruption”!!

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We live in a world where interruptions are the order of the day. Conversations interrupted by the ping of messages. Serials where breaks interrupt the story build-up. Creepy crawlies going across your TV screen in the middle of live commentary. Radio shows interminably punctuated by commercials. Computer screens infested by innumerable ad banners and video capsules. Newspapers burdened by the weight of reams of advertising, many of them obliterating headline news.

The more the popularity, greater the traffic of interruption, and heightened is the annoyance. Is this the price we consumers pay for loyalty… a quid pro quo, where a viewer seeking infotainment necessarily needs to sacrifice peace and privacy?

One recognises the commercial drive of marketers and media riding on eyeballs to deliver reach. However, should brand marketers and media both not consider the quality of impact on the audience, when excessive traffic comes in the way of the media enjoyment?

There was a time in the 1970’s when we used to hurry to get to a cinema show to catch the ads. Now with the overdose of commercial shorts we are subjected to on TV, that anticipation has evaporated. The ratio of ad content to programme content on TV has been progressively increased by many of the private channels, a recent example being the KBC Season 9, where the total number of ads during the breaks easily surpassed the total number of questions on the programme!

One merely needs to check out the reality shows on foreign channels to see how fast-paced their programmes are. In contrast, our Indian reality shows play the same interruption game within their programme content, limiting the number of main performances, stretching the frills to flirt more with judges, anchors and audiences. One can understand that in a quiz, this is done to limit the overall prize money pay out, but why in an ongoing singing competition?

India’s popular news channels are a sight for sore eyes. The TV screen is split into innumerable dynamic segments, and it is a huge challenge to stay focused through both eyes and ears, given the cacophony of interruptions that prevail in any given panel discussion.

These channels play to a standard formula: sensational text headline, a morsel of news and a rhetorical question from the news anchor, cut to field reporter who repeats the same morsel of news twice, cut back to studio where anchor repeats rhetoric and promises to follow through later. Switch on BBC and compare the gravity, continuity and tranquillity with which news is delivered or discussed.

I suspect, Indian audiences suffer from an ADD syndrome. Or the programme conceptualists think that way. If one sees the level of distraction an average Indian family displays at a restaurant or at an airport gate, the hypothesis may well be correct. Does diversity help capture the attention of a distracted audience?

Variety may lend spice to the thali concept, but for viewers who want to relish focus and depth of meaty coverage, interruption and digression are disrespectful, and certainly not the best reciprocation of their loyalty. No wonder a TV film channel bringing you great movies is today promoting only one interval!

It’s time for advertisers, the media and consumers to feel “Sorry for the Interruption”!!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Indranil Gupta

The author is Founder Director & Chief Executive Officer of BrandNEW Associates Private Limited

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