I’m constantly hearing marketing gurus talk about ‘disruption’.

How our thinking must be disruptive.

The only sort of thinking that will cut through is disruptive.

Yet just a while back these same people were telling me the old ‘interruption model’ for advertising was dead.

Advertising that tried to interrupt, to get our attention, was old-fashioned.

So according to industry experts: ‘interruptive’ thinking is dead, ‘disruptive’ thinking is the new way to go.

But wait a minute.

Don’t interruption and disruption mean the same thing?

Just to be sure I looked them both up in the dictionary.

The dictionary defines Interrupt as: “to stop the continuous progress of (an activity or process) break the continuity of (a line or surface)”.

The dictionary defines Disrupt as: “to interrupt (an event, activity, or process) by causing a disturbance or problem”.

So there it is.

The dictionary defines disruption as interruption.

But how can the newest thing ‘disruption’ be an interruption if interruption is dead?

And why are the same people telling me that disruption is the new model also telling me that interruption is the old model and dead?

Let’s just think about that for a minute.

Of course disruption works, just like interruption works.

If you don’t disrupt/interrupt how are you going to get noticed?

If you aren’t interrupting/disrupting why are you even bothering?

This is the basis of any communication.

You don’t need to be a communications professional to know that.

A bus driver, a housewife, a factory worker, a tea-lady can tell you that

If you allow everything to carry on smoothly, uninterrupted, no one will notice you, so what’s the point?

Anybody with a brain can tell you that.

And yet by changing the word we think we can make people believe we’ve had a revolutionary new thought.

We can make marketing people and clients believe they’re old fashioned for doing interruptive advertising.

They’re missing out on the new disruptive model of advertising.

No wonder I was confused.

Or maybe it wasn’t me that was confused, maybe it was the gurus.

Maybe they genuinely think that disruption is something different to interruption.

Nah, I suspect not.

In fact I suspect they don’t even care.

I suspect they’re not interested in the meaning.

Their main interest is words: new words.

Disruption is a new word, interruption is an old word.

And new words are more attractive than old words.

Because you don’t have to do the hard work of having a new thought.

You just change the word and it looks like you’ve had a new and intelligent thought.

Because the new word is different and unexpected.


Just hope no one will look in the dictionary to check what you said.