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Disruptive Advertising: Overview

In 2007 it was estimated that a city dwelling American was exposed to 5,000 advertisements per day.  From there, it can only be assumed that this number has grown immensely in the past 4 years due to emerging technology and the growth of social media. As marketers we are constantly reminded that as a consumer’s day gets filled with more and more clutter, we must find ways to have a brand’s message heard above all of the noise.  This need for breakthrough messaging has created an increased need for disruptive advertising. 

While some may argue that all advertising can be considered disruptive, as the messages a brand projects disrupt a consumer’s regular thought process, the term has more recently referred to radical and non-traditional ideas that are used to intercept a consumer’s attention so that they can be more receptive to messaging.  Disruptive advertising strategies should be unexpected and unique yet still able to convey the underlying brand message and story.

Jean-Marie Dru who once held the position of CEO at TBWA Chat Day and currently acts as chairman for the agency, is often credited with bringing the idea of disruption to light. bookDru’s 1996 book, “Disruption: Overturning Conventions and Shaking Up the Marketplace”, was one of the first to call for radical new thinking from advertising agencies when trying to reach their target audience.   His subsequent books, “Beyond Disruption: Changing the Rules in the Marketplace” and “How Disruption Brought Order: The Story of a Winning Strategy in the World of Advertising” go into detail on how disruptive advertising strategies were put into place for Clients such as Oil of Olay, Fed Ex, Absolut & Nissan.

It is important for us to constantly be thinking of disruptive ideas for our Clients as our messages start to vie for even more airtime in the mind of the consumer.  Additionally, strategies & channels that previously were seen as emerging & breakthrough, such as social media, are becoming even more crowded. 

The exciting part for us as advertisers is that as technology advances, there are even more opportunities for us to develop breakthrough ideas and strategies that will help elevate our Client’s brands.  Even further, as consumers are exposed to more radical and out of the box thinking, the less weary they will be of these disruptive marketing techniques.




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