Who remembers Blockbuster? At its peak it was the premier service for video rentals, opening a store every 24 hours.
As Blockbuster was pretty much the backbone of video rentals in the 90s and early 2000s it came as quite a shock when the international chain declared bankruptcy in 2010.
As of today only one store remains in Bend, Oregon. It’s a popular destination for tourists and a living reminder to businesses everywhere to always monitor the market. Why?
Well, Blockbuster famously turned down the option to buy Netflix way back in 2000, only to see the company completely replace it by the end of the decade. There were several attempts to move Blockbuster online, but the company was far too late and way behind the learning curve.
Ironically, Netflix eventually offered to buy out Blockbuster’s online efforts, but newly instated CEO James Keyes rejected the idea, stubbornly turning his attention back to brick and mortar stores. ‘Blockbuster Online’ as it was once called, quickly crumbled.
TikTok is a more modern example. Tik Tok today was Instagram 5 years ago, and those initially dismissing the app as a silly children’s toy are now desperately talent scouting for someone who understands the algorithm. The problem is that many of them are already too late, they fell asleep at the wheel, and opportunity passed them by.
So, what’s the next big thing you ask, what is the best way to capitalise on disruption in 2023? Where is the next big opportunity to capitalise on virgin advertising territory?
Old school disruption
The best forms of disruption take the market by surprise, and in this case that means social media isn’t at the forefront of this idea.
Old school disruption is more theatrical, it takes place out-of-home (OOH) and can actually be used to cut leads back into your digital marketing efforts.
While every other company is fighting for attention on mobile phones, you get to influence word-of-mouth (WOM) at its source by starting in-person conversations with real people.
How does a disruptive OOH campaign actually work?
A disruptive OOH campaign uses several elements to positively play against our expectations.
To run an effective OOH campaign you have to overcome 5 key challenges:
- Finding the right location to engage with your target audience.
- Disrupt people out of their normal routines.
- Turn that fleeting distraction into genuine interest.
- Fan that interest into an interaction.
- Ensure that interaction is a positive experience that either leads to a purchase, purchase intent, increases brand awareness and/or contributes to WOM conversations.
What is the best location for a disruptive display?
The best location will be somewhere that your market research shows is a hotspot for your target audience. That being said here are a few things to keep in mind.
You should make sure your location or venue has given you a good spot. You don’t want to be tucked away in a corner or hidden behind something else.
You also don’t want to be too close to anything undesirable, like the side of a noisy road, or a bunch of bins. Generally you want pride of place, think the middle of a town square, a pedestrian only high street, outside a train station, a central spot in a shopping mall etc.
You want a spot that will grant you maximum visibility and allow you to engage with customers comfortably.
Recent client Multiply chose the entrance of several TESCO stores for an Aveeno product launch.
Shoppers had to pass their branded Airstream to enter and leave the store, doubling their chances to disrupt and engage people in conversation.
What does a disruptive display look like?
Our brains constantly filter irrelevant information, so the first challenge to overcome is to visually stand out.
What design or colours could you use, to really catch the interest of passers-by, what phrase will stick in the mind and lead to enquiries? What is trending right now, how can you change the narrative? The more disruptive the better.
If you already have a static display in mind for a particular venue, go there beforehand (or use Google) and have a look around, you will quickly see what colours or design will clash the most with your environment, helping you to stand out. You don’t have to sacrifice brand recognition to do this.
One of our recent favourites would have to be the Haagen Daas ice cream van. We fully converted and branded a modern sampling van for Haagen Daas, adding giant ice cream props to the exterior.
It already looked great on it’s own, but the real cherry on top was the pop up DJ Booth we hid inside one of the ice creams.
Passersby were amazed when a DJ booth suddenly rose out of a 3 scoop ice cream and treated them to an impromptu set.
This audio visual stimulation drastically boosted the teams engagement rate, and was exactly the right kind of quirky that a good disruptive campaign features.
How to automate your disruptive display
Disrupting attention is only one part of your campaign, now you have to keep it. Although ideally you would like to engage with as many leads as possible, you may get too busy to speak to everyone.
For the same reason not every lead will have the time to physically engage with you and not all consumers will wish to interact in the same way.
Keep these questions in mind:
- How easy is it for leads to engage with your campaign?
- Do leads have to actually come over and talk to you, to learn more about your brand or promotion?
This should be an important consideration in your design process, as the right display can automate the conversion process, meaning leads won’t have to verbally engage if they don’t want to.
Largescale branding featuring your campaign message allows prospects to engage from afar.
This is one of the places you can easily cut engaged leads back into your digital efforts too, circumventing the challenge of competing for interest online.
A good QR code or hashtag is a simple way to provide an easily accessible landing page to passers-by.
The “why should I care” challenge
What can you give back to customers to make the experience of talking to you worth their time?
A recent client of ours for example was trying to highlight that their new product contained sustainable plant milk.
To get customers to care, they decided to use that same plant milk in a barista style display and give out drinks for free.
It was a highly successful campaign; anyone can understand on a common sense level that a drinkable ingredient probably isn’t harmful, and who wouldn’t want a free hot drink on a cold day?
Disruptive vs disruption
Whilst good ideas can take you a long way, good communication skills and a professional manner are essential.
There’s a fine line between innovative disruption and just being plain disruptive, something 2023 Apprentice candidate Emma Browne learned to her detriment.
Make sure that whatever you have planned isn’t irritating or unwelcome, because if it is you will get ‘skipped’ faster than a YouTube pre-roll ad.
OOH engagement is about connecting in a human way, not mindlessly regurgitating product info, USPs or brand tags.
Pick carefully if you are campaign recruiting internally, who are the right people to start and spread productive WOM conversations?
Who can establish rapport that turns to trust or even loyalty?
If you aren’t confident in your own staff, hiring engagement professionals is a good idea.
These brand ambassadors work day in and day out connecting with people on the street and are extremely good at what they do.
They know just what to say to disrupt and then draw people into conversation, without bullying or harassing them.
Saying the right thing at the right time is critical in all sales mediums, and engagement work is no different.
So hiring and training a few brand ambassadors for your campaign is almost always worth it, and can significantly boost your results.
What are my next steps?
With 93% of WOM brand impressions occurring offline, it really does pay to invest in some disruptive OOH strategies. It doesn’t cost a lot to dip your toes in and you get a lot of bang for your buck.