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Disruptive Advertising: Trends, Uses and Cases Studies

It is no secret that advertising is becoming ever-more intrusive in the lives of consumers. Every way you turn, you’re exposed to a service or product and the brand behind it – boasting of its superiority, of course.  But how can every brand be so great and stand tall amongst its competitors? In the end, the answer is: it has become nearly impossible. Instead, brands engage in a one-upping contest, building a giant mound of mixed or similar messages, essentially clutter. This clutter has:

  • Lessened distinction of brand value in the minds of consumers
  • Forced advertisers to forego the mentality that simply devising a witty tagline and aligning it with a ‚Äúcool‚Äù or ‚Äúsexy‚Äù graphic is¬† enough to capture the attention of consumers and build brand loyalty

So what gives? Creativity gives.

What gives more? Disruptive creativity gives more.

Enter the era of disruptive innovation and marketing. Disruptive innovation and marketing can most easily be defined as shifting towards the liberal or radical route; “going against the grain.” The notion of revolutionizing industries and standing out amongst brand clutter through the disruptive advent or implementation of products/services is the most striking tactic of all.

Below are three examples of disruptive innovations and marketing techniques, respectively.

Disruptive Innovation #1: First Generation Ipod

On October 23, 2001, a guy by the name of Steve Jobs completely turned the wheels on the music industry with his introduction of the Ipod that featured a mechanical scroll wheel. Jobs essentially disrupted the marketplace with an original design, as well as introducing an entirely new way of experiencing and purchasing music. Result: Major record store chains, ie. Tower Records (filed for bankruptcy in 2004), were losing sales on a massive scale. Meanwhile, iTunes has sold over 10 billions songs to date.


Disruptive Innovation #2: “Upside-down” Ketchup Bottle

Something so simple, yet very disruptive when announced. In July 2002, the makers of Hunt’s and Heinz ketchup hoped consumers in the U.S. would flip for their new “upside-down” bottle that allowed for easy squeezing and dispensing of the product.  Result: Other condiments (i.e. mustard and mayonnaise followed the flip).


Disruptive Innovation #3: Netflix

Introduced in 1998, Netflix’s subscription model and its offerings has all the hallmarks of disruptive innovation. It competes on the basis of convenience, affordability and accessibility. Result: Netflix overturned the complacent market leader of that time, Blockbuster, via implementing a disruptive business and logistics model. Blockbuster was forced to relinquish a significant source of profits from their once-fruitful late fee charges.


 Along with disruptive innovations, disruptive marketing techniques should also be noted:

Disruptive Marketing #1: Mock Protest for game, Assassin’s Creed

Why not rally up a group of improv actors, equip them with picket signs and flyers and have them put on a show on behalf of your brand in the middle of high trafficked areas? Mock protests disrupt the masses and make for a memorable word-of-mouth-worthy experience.


Disruptive Marketing #2: Flash Mob

Flash mobs are becoming more and more popular as a way to get consumer’s attention.  Whether it’s dancers moon-walking like Michael Jackson or ballroom dancers sweeping ladies off their feet in train stations, flash mobs (which are often huge and interactive events) are a sure way to disrupt the public, and create viral engagement with a campaign.


Disruptive Marketing #3: 3D Projections

3D Projections are a surefire way to disrupt pedestrians while promoting brands and/or raising awareness of issues. The unique 3D advertising experience lends to potentially gaining a broader audience through social media – providing for a chance of longer advertising lifespan versus traditional advertising methods.


In the end, if you’re looking to stand tall from all the clutter, don’t be afraid to live a little; be creative; be disruptive; be disruptively creative; be noticed.



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