Brands that disrupt

Is this thing on? I haven’t posted here in over a year. I didn’t even do my usual Super Bowl ads recap post this year. I am a slacker.

I was motivated to write here again because we are doing something fun at work that I wanted to share. We are doing a “Disruption Workshop” for the brand I write for, which has led me down a rabbit hole of researching how other brands have “disrupted” their respective marketplaces. Here are a few of my favorite examples:


Blockbuster wasn’t forward thinking. That’s a fact. Netflix began with the assumption that people wanted more convenient, at-home entertainment. They started with DVDs by mail, but they didn’t rest on their laurels. They quickly evolved when they saw the opportunity with streaming. The chart here shows the turning point a few years ago, when streaming became “it” and DVD mailings began to decline (I still get DVDs in the mail. I’m old school). Now, Netflix has even expanded into creating their own content, driving subscriptions even more. It’s really smart thinking.


Remember when Target was just another low-brow discount store, in the same category as Wal-Mart? Now, Target is “cool.” I am not ashamed to admit that I have clothes and home decor from Target. The key? They paired with high-profile designers (Isaac Mizrahi, Mossimo, etc). And they renovated the stores themselves and even their packaging to appear more hip and trendy. Now, Target is the second-largest discount retailer in the United States.

Old Spice
When I was a kid, I thought of Old Spice as an old-man product, something for grandfathers. So, when they started coming out with ads featuring former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa, I was intrigued. And I wasn’t alone. With those ads, the brand did a 180 and sales increased.

You probably think of Pabst as a cheap, watery beer popular among fraternities. Well, they’ve rebranded in China as a premium, high-end alcoholic beverage with the fancy-sounding name “Blue Ribbon 1844.” It sells for a whopping $44!

Speaking of beer…
As part of our agency disruption workshop, we have to share something about ourselves that would disrupt others’ perceptions of us. My tidbit: I have a beer app where I record every new beer I try. The current total? 740.

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