The word ‘disruptive’ has historically been considered in a negative light, but this is not the case in the fast-evolving world of marketing. In fact, disruptive marketing offers incredible opportunities to modern-day brands, particularly those that want to steal a march on their competitors and stand out from the crowd.

The key is to understand the foundations of disruptive marketing, as there’s more to this than simply taking the traditional rules of promoting your brand and completely disregarding them.

In this post, we’ll consider the origins of disruptive marketing, and ask why out-of-home (OOH) advertising channels can enable you to leverage this to your advantage.

The Origins of Disruptive Marketing

As we’ve already said, the loose definition of disruptive marketing involves taking tried and tested advertising rules and turning these on their head.

In theory, this enables brands to push their creative boundaries and differentiate themselves from their rivals, challenging the perceptions of customers and encouraging them to associate your brand with innovation, positivity and a sense of authority within the marketplace.

These factors can translate into a defined competitive edge over time, and one that enables small and emerging brands to do battle with more established rivals.

Coca cola Billboard
Image Credit: AdWeek

The definition of disruptive marketing extends beyond this, however, while the origins of this discipline also offer an insight into best practice.

In many ways, product disruption and innovation proceeded disruptive marketing, and we’ve seen numerous examples of this throughout the years. In fact, the term ‘disruptive innovation’ was coined by Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen back in 1997, and this refers to processes “whereby a smaller company with fewer resources is able to challenge an established incumbent business”.

From the emergence of the telephone over the telegraph to the evolution from landline phones to mobile alternatives, history is littered with examples of disruptive innovation. The majority of these have made new technologies and ideas accessible to the mass populous, often by taking initially niche and expensive innovations and distributing these across the globe.

This is an interesting consideration, and it’s also where disruptive marketing comes into play.

After all, this borrows heavily from the same principles, by taking familiar and proven practices and approaching them from a completely new perspective.

These unique ideas then present brands and concepts to new audiences, while challenging the outlook of customers and enabling businesses to overcome a perceived lack of funds or resources.

Where Does Out of Home Advertising Come into Play?

OK, we hear you ask, but where’s the tie-in to out-of-home advertising? The answer is simple, as this fast-growing advertising channel is ideally suited to bringing the core principles of disruptive marketing to life.

One of the main reasons for this is the innate ability of channels such as billboards to build brand awareness and recognition, with an estimated 71% of customers known to look at and process roadside messages when out of the home.

Customers in the western world are also spending approximately 70% of their time out of the home in the modern age, creating a potent mix of opportunity and engagement within the OOH space.

By targeting a vast and motivated audience, brands can leverage outdoor advertising to disrupt their chosen market without compromising on their reach or level of exposure.

In the case of large former 48 or 96-sheet billboards, these adverts also provide a larger than life showcase for bold new ideas and experimental concepts.

Carlsberg poster
Credit: The Independent

So, not only are they capable of bringing new and innovative ideas to a mainstream audience, but they also provide a thrilling stage on which brands can challenge their customers and existing perceptions.

One great example of this was provided by German supermarket chain Edeka, who waded into the debate over refugees by emptying their Hamburg store of all foreign-made produce.

They then used strategically placed signage to feature messages such as ‘our range now knows borders’ and ‘we will be poorer without diversity’, as a way of promoting the brand on the back of its core values.

This type of approach flies in the face of most accepted advertising ideas as it courts controversy, making it incredibly disruptive and capable of standing out from rivalling messages. Interestingly, OOH advertising not only made this possible, but it also helped the brand to share its ideas with a large and targeted audience in a truly memorable (and not to mention interactive) manner.

You can even argue that OOH advertising is a disruptive marketing channel by itself, as it provides a stark contrast to the popular but saturated digital space.

Digital advertising expenditures increased by over £6 billion in the nine-year period between 2007 and 2016, from £2.81 billion to £9.2 billion. By the end of this year, it’s expected to top £12.8 billion, as UK firms increasingly move towards digital and eschew outdoor marketing channels.

This is creating an extremely competitive marketing platform, which exposes us to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads on a daily basis. There’s an argument that this is becoming increasingly intrusive from a consumer perspective, and this is in direct contrast to OOH ads that blend seamlessly into their natural environment.

With this in mind, OOH advertising clearly offers a non-intrusive and disruptive medium that can really help your brand to stand apart from its rivals.

How to Use OOH to Disrupt your Market

At this point, the question that remains is how brands can leverage OOH advertising channels to drive their disruptive marketing campaigns?

This is crucial if you’re to genuinely disrupt your market and gain a competitive over more established rivals.

Here are some ideas to help you on your way:

Choose Traditional Billboards over Digital Alternatives

This may sound like a strange piece of advice, especially given the growth of digital billboards in recent years.

However, if you’re serious about building brand awareness and disrupting your existing market, traditional billboards arguably offer far greater exposure in targeted locations.

Billboard leeds

The reason for this is simple; as traditional billboards only promote one branded message at a time, depending on the length of a particular booking. This optimises your exposure and enables your brand to stand apart from its competitors, while amplifying the effect of your unique messaging!

Conversely, digital billboards often feature six competing messages simultaneously, with each one being afforded 10 seconds of air time during every minute.

This makes it hard for your messaging to gain traction or exposure, making it exceptionally difficult to disrupt a specific market or the share of established brands.

Bring Larger Adverts to Life with Imagery and Colour

We spoke previously about large format billboards, including 48 and 96-sheet options.

These larger than life adverts offer huge value to brands, both in terms of visibility and bringing daring concepts to life in the great outdoors.

They’re also ideal for the principles of disruptive marketing, as they given even new and innovative ideas a strong presence that can be augmented with the use of bold colour and imagery.

Mr Kipling Disruptive marketing
Image Credit: The Drum

In terms of colour, you should focus on using shades that highlight the most important messages on your board, which will vary depending on the precise purpose of your disruptive marketing campaign.

The only caveat is that you temper your colour scheme to match your brand’s palate, and visual identity, as this will help to drive recognition and encourage customers to associate your business with progressive and innovative ideas.

Images should also be used to support your messaging, whether they’re aspirational in their nature or boast a far deeper meaning.

However, just make sure that this does not distract from your message and the core purpose of the campaign, as the ultimate goal of disrupting any market is to promote your own brand and compete more aggressively within a particular space.

Push the Boundaries of Creativity – But Don’t Forget About Location

At the heart of any disruptive marketing campaign is creativity, as it’s important that you push your boundaries if you’re to achieve your underlying objective.

OOH adverts can help in this respect, as they enable you to combine extremely creative content with strategic locations that offer you access to a targeted audience.

A recent campaign by dating app Hinge highlights this perfectly, as the brand eschewed the tradition for creating concise adds by publishing long-copy billboards that relayed the dating experiences of real users.

Not only this, but they also weaved in businesses that were adjacent to specific ad sites, such as a local bar or bowling alley.

Not only was this campaign disruptive in every way, but it also leveraged the natural advantages of OOH media to effectively engage target consumers and capture their attention.

This campaign also showcased how it’s possible to push the boundaries of creativity and leverage target locations simultaneously, and this remains a cornerstone of any successful OOH campaign.

The Last Word

Ultimately, there’s more to disruptive marketing than meets the eye, both in terms of its origins and the way in which it can redefine business propositions.

However, there’s no doubt that OOH media is perfectly placed to help you successfully disrupt a specific market or industry and achieve traction as a small or medium-sized venture.