A Ferris Bueller Trick: Break the Fourth Wall Unpredictably

Ferris Bueller was far from the first comic lead to break the fourth wall and address the audience directly. Woody Allen (wait for 1:58), Groucho Marx (in Horse Feathers), and many others did it before Matthew Broderick’s iconic character endeared himself to 80’s audiences everywhere.

No matter who’s at the helm, there’s something very powerful about breaching the traditional wall through which the audience watches the action and engaging with them directly.

Direct marketing tactics are built around breaking the fourth wall. We address our audience directly. We use familiar terms. We ask our audience to do things. But we’re missing a “break the fourth wall” opportunity because we’ve become so darn predictable.

Audiences feel joy when the fourth wall is broken because it’s unexpected and it gives them a perspective they wouldn’t have had otherwise — a direct line of connection to the protagonist and his or her thoughts.

How can you re-energize this concept and unpredictably break the fourth wall for your audiences?

  • Create a candid “making of” video for a campaign you are launching.
  • Take a tip from Wikipedia and live broadcast the results of your campaigns and decisions you are making based on those results.
  • Develop a “Why I Do This Work” video series that shows why your staff have dedicated their lives the cause.
  • Create a fun photo board of staff desks — including those in both exotic and not-so-exotic locations.

The idea is to push beyond traditional direct marketing techniques to show a more relatable, identifiable you.

And what about the black belt  break the fourth wall move?  Connect your members with each other — the people who they have never met directly. They may just find their Ferris Bueller.