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Disruptive Marketing: Hunting the Holy Grail of Any Marketing and PR Agency

Disruptive Marketing: Hunting the Holy Grail of Any Marketing and PR Agency

13 Dec, 2018

“Disruptive Marketing” has become such an over-used buzzword among advertising and PR agency professionals, it seems to have lost much of its impact. Achieving true disruption is a far more rare and difficult task than it seems when creatives are throwing the term around in their umpteenth brainstorm, and despite the industry’s best efforts, the vast majority of attempts at disruption fall flat – and for good reason, says our Content Lead, Nicholas Kousaris.

In a content-first digital marketing environment, audiences who are bombarded with marketing materials day in and day out are – understandably – bored, tired, and oversaturated with the messaging they receive. A new approach designed to delight them with the unexpected may not seem like such a difficult feat, but disruption, almost by its very definition, is often unexpected and unplanned. Those brands that do achieve it never have any guarantees of success, but when they do strike that disruption sweet spot, the results can be more than they ever imagined.

So, what exactly makes disruptive marketing…well, disruptive? We’ve identified three common characteristics of some of the great campaigns we’ve spotted from the past couple of years to identify the elusive “magic formula” of ingredients, and these are three that stand out time and time again.

1. Fearlessness

In a post-Obama America, with Twitter-based tensions between conservatives and liberals at an all-time high, the brands that have really stood out over the past year are those who have loudly proclaimed their positions on controversial social issues that can no longer be ignored. Particularly noteworthy was . This unassuming campaign simultaneously faced off against Western islamophobia and sexist stereotypes around Muslim women. It garnered international attention, some of it negative, but most of it overwhelmingly positive, and will stand out as one of Nike’s greatest triumphs.

The same sort of fearlessness can be found in many other recent campaigns that have shaken up the marketing game. From the infamous to cosmetic brand . Today’s truly disruptive brands aren’t afraid to wear their culture on their sleeves and stand firmly on the right side of history – and consumers love them for it.

2. Personalisation

You’d think that Coca-Cola would have run out of good ideas by now, but their ingeniously-simple struck gold yet again. Today’s consumers are well aware of the marketing noise out there, and we tend to zone out when being targeted as a mass-market. But an act of personalisation, as simple as printing people’s first names on Coke cans, proved to be one of the most memorably disruptive campaigns in recent years. Similarly, has been the envy of online retailers for years, and its effectiveness can be chalked up to pretty much the same message: as consumers, we know you’re talking to us, but as an individual, I want you to be a specialist in me.

3. Authenticity and Transparency

Audiences love a brand that isn’t too full of its own grandeur, and can relate to consumers on their own wavelength. There’s no quicker way to lose somebody’s interest than to appear haughty, after all. At the moment, we’re loving Nandos’ end-of-year wrap up television campaign, poking fun at the ups and downs of South African life, from the Guptas to the infamous “Doom Prophet” and everything in between. This is just the latest in a long dynasty of Proudly South African tongue-in-cheek humour that doesn’t shy away from our country’s unique brand of socio-economic woes. Fearlessness? Check. Personalisation? Check. And despite the brand’s gigantic expansion to all corners of the globe, it remains humble, a little corny, and endlessly enjoyable. Authenticity? Double-check.

Your Thoughts?

What do you think of disruptive marketing? Is it all cheap talk, or is there some magic recipe that can elevate results head and shoulders above the rest? Have you seen any particularly memorable campaigns that have changed the way you looked at a brand or industry? Let us know in the comments!