Dave Trott
Oct 25, 2013

Dave Trott’s blog: If an ad runs in the forest and there's no one to hear it...

The author says that to get someone’s attention, you have to interrupt them - entertainingly. Because good ads work, bad ads don’t - whether on TV, radio, posters, press, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.

Dave Trott’s blog: If an ad runs in the forest and there's no one to hear it...

Last year in San Francisco a group of commuters got on a train and did what commuters normally do.

They took out their mobile phones.

They played games on them, read books, magazines, papers.

Everything completely normal, nothing remotely out of the ordinary.


As the train pulled into the station one of the commuters blew the back of another commuter’s head off. 

Everyone was shocked and confused, that it could happen so suddenly, that it came out of nowhere.

But they were even more confused when they saw the replay on the security cameras.
It hadn’t happened suddenly at all.

The gunman had been waving a large calibre .45 automatic handgun around for the entire journey.

Four or five times he took it out of his pocket and waved it around in plain sight.

He even wiped his nose with the hand holding the gun.

No one who was looking could have failed to see the weapon.

And that was the problem.

No one was looking.

Everyone was involved in their own world, their mobile phones.

Playing games, reading books, magazines, papers.

They weren’t part of the same world as the gunman, so they didn’t see him waving the gun around.

Twelve passengers, sitting as close as three feet away, and no one noticed anything.

And the news media is shocked at the behaviour of those commuters.


They didn’t notice anything because they weren’t interrupted.

Surely that isn’t news.

Except for all the digital gurus who were saying advertising is dead because it’s based on the old interruption model.

Funny thing though.

Have you ever tried to watch a video on YouTube without the mandatory pre-roll?

The one that says you have to wait 4 seconds to skip the ad.

What’s that if it isn’t interruption?

Have you ever turned on Facebook and noticed how many sponsored messages there are in your timeline?

What’s that if it isn’t interruption?

Have you ever noticed annoying spam tweets in your Twitter inbox, from people you don’t follow?

What’s that if it isn’t interruption?

These interruptions are badly done and annoying.

If you’re going to interrupt someone the least you can do is be entertaining.

It’s a transaction.

I’ll give you something interesting in exchange for some of your attention.

If I don’t give you something interesting, you’ll ignore it.

It’s always been that way.

Digital gurus need to learn it isn’t a matter of what you do, it’s a matter of how well you do whatever you do.

Good ads work, bad ads don’t.

Whether on TV, radio, posters, press, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.

To get someone’s attention you have to interrupt them.

And they won’t pay attention if they’re not interested.

Dave Trott is chairman, The Gate, London.

The blog first appeared on www.campaignlive.co.uk

Campaign India

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