Stop Shrombarding Me!

June 24, 2009

I bet this happens to me almost every day. Someone starts to tell me a story and I have to fill in the information.

You have probably experienced it too. It goes like this:

“I have to tell you about that this TV show I was watching, you know, the one with that woman from Seinfeld, what’s her name, she’s on this new show… what’s it called?”

And I start thinking, who is telling this story? Me or the other person.

This is shrombarding. Where you have the all information, but someone else is taking credit for telling the story.

Now that I know what it is called, I notice it happening all the time to me. People start to tell me something and I am the one who has to supply the information. In my brain the alarm goes off, “Oh-oh, I am being shrombarded.”

I think it has to do with the overall A.D.D. that our society has. No one has concentration anymore. We all expect we can cripple through relying on others to fill in our inadequacies.

We even see it in commercials.  For example, we saw one recently with a dumb guy having a technician set up his internet connection. The guy sounds like he had never heard of any elementary internet terms. He shrombards the tech to show his wife that he knows about what he doesn’t know about. It is transparent and obnoxious. And, it is yet another commercial playing off the “dumb man” with the “smart wife” cliche.

On one hand, I want to forgive people from shrombarding me. After all, there are so many bits of extraneous information barraging in on us.

I mean who can remember so much stuff, particularly in an age when people are expected to remember Madonna’s second child’s name, or who Angelina Jolie’s uncle is.

That is why we need Google. Now we don’t have to remember facts, the internet does it for us. And Wikipedia always tells the truth, even if CNN doesn’t.

But advertising should never resort to shrombarding its viewers. Advertising should be clear and communicate its message in a thorough and provocative way.  We only get 30 or 15 seconds.

It might be okay for police to drag information out by shrombarding when they are interrogating suspects, just like Columbo always did.  But advertising generally does not engage its target so completely that the target will do all the work.  The result for advertising is that the message can be completely lost.

So here is a trivia question for you, you know that guy who wrote all those plays, what’s his name, the English guy, the one who did Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet and all those others, what the heck was his second child’s name?



* Answers: Rocco, Chip Taylor, twins Hamnet and Judith (but who really cares outside Wikipedia).  So now, wild thing, what was Chip Taylor famous for?

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