Pattern Interrupt vs Smelly Kelly

Application of a Pattern Interrupt – Country Style


I had opportunity to employ the pattern interrupt concept outside of a marketing environment and I must say it was a smashing success!

A Pattern interrupt is a technique to change a particular thought, behavior or situation. Behavioral psychology and neuro linguistic programming use this technique to interrupt and change thought patterns and behaviors.


CanCloseUpPattern interrupts apply to many things in life beyond marketing as demonstrated in the above Huffington Post piece.  However, my opportunity to apply the concept was a last ditch effort to get my  twice a week garbage pick up actually picked up on Tuesdays.  Apparently, my local garbage service, “Smelly Kelly’s”, has different drivers on the route past my place during the week.  Driver “A” does Tuesdays and Driver “B” does Fridays.  The Friday guy always took the garbage.  The Tuesday guy…. not so much.

Let me explain a little more for those that don’t know me.  I live in the country.  We still burn our paper trash and compost our veggie stuff.  What makes it to the curb for trash collection is non-burnables and things that have to do with meat packaging that we don’t want stinkin’ up the burnables before they are burned.

There are also no leash laws out here and if anyone has a fence it’s usually  barbed wire or something similar geared toward horses and cattle rather than dogs.  In an effort to keep the garbage in the can until “Smelly Kelly” arrives, we usually freeze any empty meat trays and wrappers until trash day to hold down the aroma that lures the neighbor dogs thus keeping the can upright and the stuff inside until it’s collected.

When “Tuesday Guy” drove right on past and left the trash in the can , it was party time for the neighbor dogs.  I was picking up garbage from my driveway, strung out up the road to the neighbors place every week.  I had complained to the company to no avail.  Tuesday Guy would remember the week he got hollered at, and pass me up from then on.

One day I was thinking about how we get blind to certain types of advertising.  I thought about how I always plan a pattern interrupt in videos to get people to pay attention for a few seconds.  Then it hit me.  I’m pretty sure that trash collection is not the most scintillating occupation in the world.  I have a lot of big trees on my corner that makes it shady and darkish even in the afternoon,  My trashcan was a generic dark green plastic thing that probably blended in to the trees and brush, so if Tuesday Guy was thinking about anything else as he drove by, it did not demand his attention.  Like a generic advertisement it never registered as something he needed to take action on.CanAtRoad

The next time I went to town I picked up a big can of the brightest, most obnoxious, florescent fuchsia spray paint I could find.  Applying it to the dark green trashcan took some of the punch out of the color but it is still quite a standout among the bushes and vines at the roadside.  It is a visual pattern interrupt, and it works.  After months of frustration, without saying a word to anyone, my trash has been picked up faithfully every Tuesday since I painted the can 6 weeks ago.  That is effective advertising at its attention getting best.

We are all pounded with so much media input in our daily lives now that we have ceased to see a lot of what is right in front of us.  Run of the mill advertising is like the green trashcan, invisible.  In our various advertising and media campaigns we need to consistently find or create the fuchsia trashcan effect to stand out and get noticed by our target consumers.