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Is ‘disruptive marketing’ still disruptive?


Opinion Piece

Have you ever heard the term, ‘disruptive marketing’?  I have.  A lot.  Probably too many times, in fact.

I’ve sat in project briefings with very well-known brands whereby brand directors and heads of marketing are looking for “something disruptive to REALLY ‘shake up’ the market…like the meerkats”.
Recently I was told by a food production company owner “I want you to come back in here in a few weeks, put your balls on the table, and show me something disruptive with real red hot traction”.  (I’m not even joking).

But is what we know as ‘disruptive’ actually disruptive anymore?  In a noisy world that’s recently been turned upside down, shaken around a bit and then smashed against the wall a few times, do people still think talking-meerkats, re-cycling old cartoons, or a bull flying through space is disruptive, relevant and effective?  Do brands think that the public really have such a short attention span and therefore need something obscure to grab their attention?  Personally I don’t think so.  I think those ‘disruptive tactics’ are about as relevant as being asked to place my balls on someone’s table whose job it is to sell crisps…and nuts (!)

As the world slowly gets back to some form of normality, I believe the brands that will succeed in the medium-long term are the ones that take the time to really understand the challenges and motivations of their customers and therefore can evoke real human emotions through personalised & relatable brand campaigns, communications and experiences, rather than knee-jerking and producing a completely over-the-top ‘disruptive’ campaign to try and win in the short term.

Campaign recently stated that three out of four people think brands should create ‘real stories’ this Christmas, rather than the usual big-budget ad campaigns.  In fact, the article revealed that nearly 40% of people find big budget ad campaigns to be overrated, which suggests brands should re-think their communication strategy and creative approach in the wake of Covid-19.

And I think this desire for real, authentic content and experiences will not only win this Christmas, but as we enter the ‘new norm’, I think it’s paramount for brands to re-think their communication strategies and physical retail experiences, to tap into the sensitivities and real requirements of real people.

It’s natural for people to crave human contact, and given that we can’t touch each other right now without gloves or hand sanitiser, brands need to step up and offer a regular virtual arm around the shoulder to empathetically lighten the mood and be the motivation we all need and crave.  We all need a little release or pick-me-up from time to time, and if brands can resonate with customers, make them smile and be relatable & believable, that will go a long way in the coming months to re-build trust and establish long-term, meaningful engagement.

Perhaps ‘being human’ is the ‘new disruptive’ in this ‘new norm’?

To chat this topic through in more detail, drop our marketing director, Ollie, a line.

PS – does anyone know if you can legally fire crisps and nuts out of a cannon strapped to the back of a cheetah?

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