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Disrupt culture. Break through.

It's no secret that advertising is getting harder. There's been an explosion in the number of touch points, and the cost and complexity of achieving scale has ballooned accordingly. At the same time consumers are becoming more empowered to avoid ads, more distrustful of brands, and have more messages vying for their attention than ever before.

A recent global study by CEB of over 250 marketing initiatives across more than 60 brands and 20 industries found that the only factor that statistically differentiated good performance from great performance in campaigns was when a marketing idea was culturally disruptive.

Brands were categorized in several buckets, and researchers found that product-focused messaging, emotional or entertaining creative, and affirming a strong, shared belief with customers were all techniques that were NOT predictive of breakout performance. Culturally disruptive campaigns, however, were 32% more likely to achieve breakout success.

Good news. There is a formula to cultural disruption. It starts with identifying a shared value or belief that brands have with their customers. It then becomes disruptive by advancing the debate about that shared belief. This is in contrast to an affirming approach where the brand simply supports the shared value.

The idea is to go beyond a "That's SO me!" reaction to a "Hey, I hadn't thought of that," one. Components of a highly successful culturally disruptive idea are when it challenges a cultural norm, is surprising or provocative for influencers, advances a societal debate, and links to a key brand differentiator.

Why does this work? First, by attaching to a pre-existing construct in your target's mind, your campaign is doing less heavy lifting. Rather than attempting to construct a notion in your customer's mind, you are addressing one that already exists.

Second, a disruptive idea challenges that existing notion, which requires a higher level of active mental processing. This is much more likely to inspire social participation and sharing. This allows the brand’s message to spread, reaching a greater audience for a low cost.

If you'd like to discuss the opportunity for a culturally disruptive idea to create breakthrough impact for your business, you can contact us here and arrange a time to talk.

Lauren McGehee Senior Strategist

As one of the bigger brains at Traction, Lauren makes sure that everything we do has a damn good reason to exist. As the champion for the consumer, she steers our discovery and research to insure that we have relevant insights into our audiences’ behavior and desires. When she’s not making our team better, she is learning about the world through travel, food, books, art, and chasing her very fast dog, Greg.