By Anna Fowles, Executive Vice President

If I had a dollar every time I heard someone talk about launching a ‘disruptive, Big-Idea’ marketing campaign, I’d fly to Italy for my pasta dinner tonight instead of making it at home.

Instead, I just cringe. Let me explain.

‘Disruptive’ is the marketing buzzword these days. Marketers want their products to be groundbreaking, to stand out, to change how we live, think, feel, communicate and act.

In a lot of cases, however, most disruptive products are a wannabe.

In my mind, a disruptive product is one that changes the existing paradigm, usually through technological innovation. Think Uber or Airbnb. Two truly disruptive offerings that are completely rewriting the rules about how common and established services are bought, sold and priced.

So with the success of disruptive products or services, marketers think this, in turn, translates to creating disruptive marketing campaigns. Disruptive marketing is no different than disruptive products.

What Is Disruptive Marketing?

It is marketing that changes the existing paradigm, usually through technical innovation. Think SEO or contextual re-targeting, two digital tactics that have transformed marketing by helping to ensure that the right message lands in front of the right consumer at the right time.

But strangely, many companies seem to think that disruptive marketing is not about technical innovation but rather about a shocking, unusual, attention-grabbing creative slash Big Idea.

The problem with this line of thinking, of course, is that anyone who has been in the direct marketing business for more than an afternoon knows that shocking, high-concept creative—while great for grabbing attention, headlines, and awards—is useless at generating sales.

Don’t believe me? Name one truly effective DRTV commercial that uses high-concept, shocking creative.

Can’t think of any? Don’t worry, neither can I.

The Truth About Advertising

The truth is, advertising that actually sells products (or services) does so by presenting the consumer with a structured, irresistible and emotionally resonant explanation about how that product or service is going to improve their life.

In other words, it’s an organized, coherent and relevant sales presentation that outlines how the product is going to by save them money, help them solve a problem, bring them added convenience and or make them look or feel better. It’s heavy on benefits, includes explanations and repetition and always ends with a strong call to action.

It is most definitely not about shocking, outrageous or high-concept creative. DRTV advertisers are most certainly not thinking about:

Will people be talking about it around the water cooler after they see it?
Will it win awards for creativity?
Will it go viral?
Will it get tweeted and retweeted?
Will we get a bunch of likes on Facebook?
Will we get a guest appearance on Ellen?

Because the purpose of a TV commercial should never be to shock, outrage or entertain. The purpose of a television commercial, namely a DRTV commercial, is to sell.

Getting Results

So, when you’re thinking about the next ‘Big Idea’ creative, the disruptive campaign, the viral commercial, first ask yourself: is your Big Idea more important than actually selling your product or service? If it is, that’s fine — leave that to the agencies who never measure the true effectiveness of their work. But if you want your product to sell, go with an agency that gets you noticed by your bosses as a savvy DR marketer with a laser focus on measureable results.

Now THAT’S a Big Idea.

We deliver creative that generates leads and drives sales.