Thursday, January 31, 2008


4Ps B&M's Monojit Lahiri examinies an amazing phenomenon that challenges legitimate logic by celebrating the virtues of DHAMAKA!

Advertising has often been described as a calling that deals single-mindedly with the business of ideas …ideas that connect with their prime constituency and patao them to leap towards products or service advertised. In this exciting kabaddi, several routes, avenues devices (humour, insecurity, charm, fear, pride, envy, snob-appeal, rebellion) have been successfully developed to seduce the prospective customer, but the one that has bewildered, shocked, intrigued, even provoked several zillion people is the use of disruption as a bait! C’mon, can disarray, disorder, dhamal, split or severe ever hope to woo customers into an affirmative or approval mode? Isn’t it unsettling and fundamentally frightening? Why would anyone sane, deliberately disrupt anything? Can disruption really be a force designed to create something dynamic from something that has gone static?

TBWA’s moving spirit Jean Marie Dru believed it could. The objective of this revolutionary approach according to the great communication visionary was: Reframe the brand in a manner that is so startling that the market begins to look at it differently. De-familiarise or re-complexify it in a way that force consumers to see and notice brand characteristics that they had overlooked earlier. This leads to a fresh renewal of interest in the brand. Brilliant examples include McDonald’s selling fast food to the “snooty” French. Playstation selling computer games to adults. Most hilarious, the US buying Absolut Vodka that is not Russian!

There is more. Apple’s disruption (for example), slung out the time-tested, sacrosanct notion, which pronounced that communicating product features were the key to selling hi-tech products. Apple’s maverick visionary leader, Steve Jobs believed that a brand was not solely about “bytes or boxes but values” and proceeded to provide the perfect example of an organisation that knew how to constantly re-invent itself by disrupting the status quo. The introduction of Macintosh is an outstanding model. Its premise rested on challenging the hallowed premise that “people should be computer literate.” Jobs’ startling and revolutionary retort was “computers should be people literate and designed to work the way people do!” What followed was a pure, high decibel marriage of theatrics, showbiz and hard headed selling. For 60 seconds during the 1980 Super-Bowl (the mother of all major events in USA), he unleashed the (by now legendary) 1984 TV spot, which promised everybody a brave new world, free from the de-humanising effects of computer technology.

The words were simple yet cataclysmic… On Jan 24, 1984 Apple launches Macintosh. And you will see why1984 won’t be 1984 (a chilling connect with George Orwell’s ominous book). It was reported that the very next day over 200,000 people stormed showrooms across the US and within six hours, sales reached over $3.5 million! A decade and a half later Apple disrupted again with their landmark ‘Think Different’ campaign featuring great creators of the 20th century who are not fond of rules and have no respect for the status quo. Apple (Jobs announced) was a company that made ‘Tools for Creative Minds’. Today with iPods and iTunes music, Apple continues its path-breaking disruption mode.
To celebrate disruption, creativity has to happen at strategic levels before real creative work begins. The BIG IDEA is called for… and the answer is to look to the outside world for cues, guidance, hints, tips, inspiration. Look to the world of history, science, business for ideas that drove dramatic changes in perception. Before Copernicus (for example) the heavens rotated around the earth. Before Pasteur, there were no germs and so no immunisation. Before Ford automobile transportation was a relatively expensive indulgence and the privilege of a select few. Disruption changed it all… Copernicus and Pasteur are said to have had intuitive feeling about theories they went on to prove… and Ford had very definitive ideas about democratising automobile transportation.

The Guru of Disruption, (Jean Marie) generously offers a simple four-step guideline. One, identify the conventions and unquestioned assumptions that shape and form an organisation’s blue print. Two, look at how the different facets of its activity fit together. Three – enter disruption – challenge these conventions to find flaws in its thinking. Four, identify a vision or a projection of the company that represents the future. This vision is much more than a proposition or positioning statement. It’s a total culture – a destination against which all strategic and marketing decisions are/will be measured.

At the end of the day, disruption is neither a seismic shakeout, dramatically lobbed gimmick nor myopic anarchy. Beyond a mere formal procedure or process it is a strategically directed shakeup, a perceptive way of both thinking and looking at that killer opportunity. Its about seeing the world with an open and curious mind accepting nothing on face value and taking on odds, fearlessly… The basic point about disruption is – Disrupt before the world disrupts you. Invent the future instead of being evicted by it.

So crash, burn and destroy, guys. disruption is the way to go!