Disruption in advertising - is it right for you?

Disruption in advertising – is it right for you?

Intelligent disruption is shaking up the economy at large. It takes established techniques or products, looks at them with the consumer in mind and creates something better in their place.


Disruption applies to two categories – disruption in product creation, and disruption in marketing. Each is useful, and will apply depending on what your business is trying to achieve.


Disruption in product development

People use products differently. Features and functions can become redundant, costing the user extra money they don’t need to spend. Forward thinking businesses can take advantage of this.


Google pulled ahead of the pack by taking intelligent risks. Google’s go-to has always been simplicity – it takes on the heavy lifting while the user gets a product that works. Chromebooks, for example, strip away unnecessary additions to a laptop – large hard drives, excessive processing power and so on. What makes the Chromebook a smart move on Google’s part, is that it works within their own OS, keeping the user within the Google environment. The most important element of Google’s disruptive practice is the cost. Chromebooks start at around £150, undercutting even the lowest-spec Windows and Apple devices.


Google shows us that the most important part of disruptive practice determines which parts of a product are useful, and which aren’t.


Useful questions to ask:
  1. How are consumers using (and not using) features of the product?
  2. Can you strip out unused features in competitor products?
  3. Will a stripped-down product result in an ability to pass a lower cost on to consumers?


Disruption can be a useful tool for smaller businesses, also. Disruptive startups get noticed. It helps startups carve out a niche. Dollar Shave Club offered cost-effective men’s shaving products delivered by post. Consumers only bought competitors as they had no alternative.


Disruption in advertising

Disruptive advertising is useful for household names. Attempting to be innovative with well-established products can be costly if consumers respond poorly.


Coke’s 2013-2014 ‘Share a Coke‘ campaign made waves. They printed the UK’s most popular names on the labels of Coca Cola bottles. It was significant as it made the brand interactive – people sought out their own name and bought bottles to give to friends. The great thing for brands like Coke is that nobody can repeat this innovation – any mimicry is immediately obvious.


Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaigns were similarly successful. Seeing a rise in discourse about unrealistic beauty standards in cosmetics advertising, Dove created a campaign based around the fuller-figured women alienated by this marketing. It changed brand perception because it showed women happy, healthy versions of themselves.


Useful questions when planning disruptive advertising:
  1. What can you do that is simple, new, unexpected and attention-grabbing?
  2. How can you encourage users to share your campaign by word-of-mouth and social media?
  3. How can you create an emotional response to your product?
  4. Why do some demographics not buy the product?


The risks

While the potential is huge, disruptive advertising is not without risk. It is harder to predict results than with traditional advertising. A particularly big risk is that it is impossible to predict the conditions you will release the new advertising into. A news story, the political climate or social media can mean your campaign does more harm than good.


Pepsi took flack for trivialising the USA protests around governmental policy, Cadbury enraged people by being perceived not to use the word ‘Easter’ in its egg hunt advertising, and Snickers created advertising perceived as homophobic.


The subjective nature of advertising is always a risk, and can be taken into account, but it is difficult to create advertising that grabs attention without also running the risk of alienating certain groups.


Summing up

Disruptive advertising is particularly useful in two circumstances – to help large, existing brands get noticed by a wider base, and to help get startups all-important attention, and maintain their momentum. As seen with Dove, disruption can be an effective way to distance a brand from perceived problems within its sector.


Disruptive innovation is powerful,  yet there is a lot to be said for traditional advertising. Reminding consumers of the quality of your product will always result in sales, particularly in an established market niche.


It all boils down to one of the core precepts of marketing – every investment is a risk. The higher the risk, the higher the reward.


To find out how you can take advantage of the biggest trends in advertising, get in touch with Bright Spark Creative. Call +44 (0) 191 276 5566 or email hello@brightspark-creative.co.uk.

To see more of what we do, take a look at our Our Work page.

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