This month,Ian Truscott has been hanging out in the proverbial penthouse with Christine Bailey. As usual, the conversation filled with ire. The subject: interruption marketing and wasted advertising. Feel differently? Then let us know.

Elsewhere in this issue, resident CMO rock star Ted Rubin tells us to walk in the shoes of the people receiving our marketing (in this article). I get the feeling Christine Bailey does that a lot: that’s why she’s so desperate to chuck interruption marketing and wasted advertising into the pool.

I’m reminded of the time we went backstage with her for a Q&A:


Personally, I hate interruption marketing and wasted advertising. I went to an exhibition recently and there was a sign in the bathroom: “Please do not throw advertising circulars in the toilets”. Says it all really.

Luckily, the sign at the hotel says no such thing about throwing this crap in the swimming pool, so Christine gives me a knowing wink and we give it a sharp shove.

Going in? Just like that? If you are a regular reader of this column, you’ll know I usually share some justification before giving marketing’s more unforgivable aspects the old “heave-ho”. But this time it seems so damn obvious. OK, if I must…

As young marketers, we’re bottle-fed on wisdom supposedly uttered by John Wanamaker:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.”

Yet such ignorance would feel like bliss these days. We’re now drowning in data, and the industry average click-through rates for any form of digital advertising are in the low single-digit percentages. If Wanamaker was around today, his lament would surely be:

“95% of my digital marketing is pissing people off, and I know exactly which 95%.”

Of course, these days our definition of “waste” may not be the same. In Wanamaker’s day, he would have to spend a lot of money to piss off 95% of his audience. Today, if we’re only paying for the click, there’s barely any waste at all.

That said, we’re still straddling the marketing world of old and whatever comes next, so it’s still perfectly possible to spend an awful lot of money and wind up pissing people off. Dodge once spent a shitload of cash on an ill-judged super bowl ad that used a Martin Luther King speech to hawk their trucks. It may not have managed to annoy the full 95%, but it did get plenty of folks riled up, and almost certainly fell short of Wanamaker’s benchmark of only wasting 50% of your advertising budget on a campaign.

The important thing to recognise is that these apparently wasteful moments are also golden opportunities. Christine refers to being at an exhibition, and she refers to being interrupted.These were expensive and hard things in Wanamaker’s day. But today…


… I can interrupt anyone reading an article pretty much for free.

Any opportunity to engage is still incredibly valuable.
But how many times do we pay attention to a piece of marketing for a fleeting moment, only to be left disappointed in what the advertiser has chosen to do with our attention? We click through to another dumb ad or unimaginative wall of business speak and we feel cheated. That’s more moments from our short lives stolen.

Today, the cost to reach people’s eyeballs may have dropped, but the opportunity you have once they engage is just as powerful as it’s always been.

Anything that wastes that opportunity is being flushed down the gallery toilet. And to save Christine the trouble, we are chucking it directly into the pool…


Ian Truscott

Ian Truscott is an accomplished B2B content marketer, having held marketing leadership roles within global software vendors in both the US and Europe, before growing a content marketing practice within an international agency, developing a methodology that enabled clients such as Nasdaq, General Motors and American Express to realise the value of content marketing. Ian is applying this same passion for content as head of marketing for censhare AG.

Go backstage with Ian here, or read more of his articles

More from the September Issue

Inspired by the album A Seat At The Table by Solange, this issue goes back to why we started this whole thing in the first place - the next generation of marketing rockstars. With fresh faces joining the usual roster of legends, we’ve got inspiration from creatives Olivia Foster and Stephen Kelly, and tappit CMO Jenni Young. Read More

Ian Truscott

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