The following presentation highlights a few interesting aspects of the current disruptive zeitgeist and is rather meant to be a ‘tango with the terminology’ than a complete discourse on the topic. As a former copywriter, creative director and entrepreneur in Germany, Austria and in South Africa, I want to kick off a conversation with you around creative disruption, change, giants, misfits, implications for advertising, and how I fit into the big picture to serve and benefit your business. Enjoy the ride!
Disruption is a peculiar word. Some perceive it as rather
negative in the traditional dictionary deﬁnition of ‘throwing
into confusion or disorder’, in marketing reality it’s often
confused with plain ‘interruption’, SiliconValley labels almost
every innovation as ‘disruptive’, and futurists proclaim a
whole new ‘age of disruption’ for us to come.
The following presentation highlights a few interesting aspects and is rather
meant to be a ‘tango with the terminology’ than a complete discourse on the
topic.As a former copywriter, creative director and entrepreneur in Germany,
Austria and in South Africa, I want to kick off a conversation with you around
creative disruption, change, giants, misﬁts, implications for advertising, and how I
ﬁt into the big picture to serve and beneﬁt your business. Enjoy the ride!
1. Deﬁnition & Evolution
2. Implications for Advertising
3. Disruptions in my professional life
4. What I bring to the table
Creative Disruption is a phrase that has been used in the marketing world for more
than a decade to describe the desired break in existing patterns of behavior of the
target audience in response to a highly creative product and/or message.
Today we are facing a massive increase in disruptive brands, products and services -
turning frequent patterns of behavior into new habits and lifestyles.
Constantly challenging and changing established industries and markets.
First there were millions, thousands, hundreds of years for adaption to change.
Today we are talking about months, weeks, days.
Disruptive innovations are accelerating at the fastest pace in history.
“I do. If you think about the original story of David and
* Malcom Gladwell in an interview on his book “David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misﬁts, and the Art of Battling Giants”
“So do you feel that the speed at which
Goliath, David has audacity, speed, the element of surprise,
expertise, and an unusual weapon.All of those are—in an
economy that moves virtually—huge advantages, much
bigger than they would have been otherwise. So I do think
maybe we are entering a sort of golden age of the David.” *
our modern digital age operates is beneﬁcial
to the people in the David position?”
Wait a minute...
Does that mean we have to rethink EVERYTHING?
Few mega-trends show a larger gap between consumer
desire and business reality: Despite clear and consistent
evidence that consumers crave HUMAN BRANDS (by
lavishing love and attention on brands that ‘get it’), in
2014 too many brands will continue to fail to be on the
right side of the epic shift towards a more open,
authentic,‘human’ business environment.
When asked about ‘meaningful brands’, most people said
they wouldn’t care if 73% of brands ceased to exist.
(Havas, June 2013)*
* Trend Report 2014, trendwatching.com
25+ Mind Blowing Stats About Business Today - CTRL ALT Delete
So, where are our
new role models?
Humans trust humans.
“All too often, disruption is portrayed as a
mysterious process that requires almost
superhuman abilities. We look to people like
Henry Ford, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk to lead
us or, alternatively, seek out softheaded
theories of inﬂuence to explain it.
Make no mistake - it’s not the nodes, but the
network that creates disruption.”*
*forbes.com - How Disruption Happens
1. The good news:
There’s one thing that will never
“Man, that’s crazy!
Now even disruptions are being
disrupted by disruptions?”
“Get over it.
It’s just screen fragmentation.”
*The distinction, the one that people constantly
miss, is that real disruption is almost impossible to
see until it’s too late, because the technology or
business is so different from what already exists.
It's usually not some spectacular new technique.
It's often a small and underpowered alternative.
That's what makes it so dangerous and fascinating.
The ﬁne print:
So how do we disrupt
the ad industry?
“Blow up your creative department.
Literally. Tear walls down, orient
your space around collaboration,
and introduce new thinkers. Build a
culture of creative misfits.
The definition of the word “creative”
in advertising is way too narrow for
the times. Technologists or internet
creatives are creatives.
Make room for idea people of all
types, even if they don’t write copy
or art direct.”
Winston Binch, Partner/Chief Digital Officer
at Deutsch LA - www.deutschinc.com
“Wieden+Kennedy aspires to be more than
just an ad agency. As proof, several distinctly
different experiments created by W+K allow
us to build new relationships with the
communities we reside in as well as help
transform our ever-evolving industry.
Our incubators create environments for
entrepreneurial partnership and mentorship
that drive culture and innovation. There is no
blueprint for building a W+K incubator; each
has evolved out of a need to adapt in a
dynamic world and to engage with people at
the forefront of technology, arts and
is already #incubating...
Early digital marketing evangelist, Joseph Jaffe, has
built a whole new agency model around this:
Growth Hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder.
They have a mindset of data, creativity, and curiosity.
Growth hackers build the
product's potential growth,
including user acquisition,
retention, and virality, into
the product itself.
“Are the foundations of
the ad industry being dis-
rupted the same way that
the start-up world was?
I think the answer is
Let’s face it.
They will beat us.
So it’s time to join ‘em.”
Ryan Holiday, former director of marketing at
American Apparel (at the age of 25), today a best-
selling author and adviser to many brands focusing
on the untraditional tactics behind a new class of
thinkers who disrupted the marketing industry.
Where are you in this game?
And what can I do to contribute to your success?
Disruptions in my
[You can’t preach Disruption unless you’re willing to live by it. - Lee Clow,TBWA ]
Trained as an advertising merchant during the recession,
I worked 4 years as a copywriter at Saatchi & Saatchi in
the industry’s heydays towards the end of the decade.
Sounds pretty linear? Well, ...
Disruption #1: Instead of going to university after school
I moved from Hamburg to the city that should become
the world capital of urban chill sounds in the 90s.*
*Image: Kruder & Dorfmeister World Domination
Memories of a time when mobile
phones and the internet were just
starting to become our new darlings.
Until then, we had insane
love affairs with cars...
This print ad twisted a quote by
Confucius, which is best translated
into “The way is the goal”. By leaving
out the article, the message turns into
“Away is the goal”, implying that you
forget about your destination while
you’re in the TT driving experience.
By the end of the 90s the internet had signiﬁcantly disrupted our
economy, so I decided to move from traditional advertising to
Germany’s most renowned digital media agency at that time...
I started in 2000 as e7’s youngest creative
director with my ﬁrst six ﬁgure salary - yay!
Greenpeace: The ABC of Resistance.
A new navigation concept to help activists and
users dive deeper into the Greenpeace world.
Deutsche Post: Love letter buildings.
One in Berlin, one in NewYork.A massive online
staging around two buildings covered with love.
Episode with Gerald
After the internet bubble burst in 2001,
I had the honor of working on a number
of projects with Germany’s copywriting
legend, Gerald Heinemann, in Hamburg.
Besides a lot of intensive work on new business and pitches,
we created a very successful grand opening of René Lezard’s
new ﬂagship store at Hamburg’s prestigious Jungfernstieg.
Flagship Store Opening
Probably the most striking disruption wave in my life.
Starting out as an experiment at the end of 2002,
South Africa turned into a rich source of experience
over the course of a decade.
In the ﬁrst 2 years, I have worked as a freelancer for ad agencies in Europe, developing
various ideas, concepts and copy for brands such as Saturn, Mercedes-Benz, Escada
Sport, Hugo Boss, Lufthansa, Davidoff, Philips,Thomas Cook, and Procter & Gamble.
In 2005, my business partner and I had a disruptive moment of enlightenment:There were
no advertising matches in the country yet! So we founded our ﬁrst South African start-up
and provided the hospitality industry with branded matchboxes and bookmatches...
After 3 years of igniting restaurants, bars and
hotels one by one, we had a decent list of some
of the most renowned clients in SA to show off.
Despite new smoking regulations, tobacco
advertising bans, and tough import restrictions
for dangerous goods, Smatch Media became soon
SA’s most creative supplier for branded matches.
In winter 2008, we launched an online campaign
based on a massive energy crisis in South Africa...
Animated banners and online PR on South Africa’s leading digital platform for the marketing industry
encouraged brands to support people who were suffering from power outages in their cold and dark
homes.A great opportunity to rekindle the passion for brands with a warm message at the right time.
Another 3 years into the ﬁnancial
crisis, we’ve lost our major clients
and the business was simply not
viable anymore.We signed off.
“In today’s economy, you will not only have
different jobs, but different careers.”
Mitch Joel,Twist Image
Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants
After I’d digested the meltdown of our business, I chose to go
back to school.The idea was to learn from “the earth’s most
customer-centric company” in becoming. So I started working
for Amazon, Cape Town, in 2011, specialising in customer
service for Kindle and Digital Contents.A versatile experience.
Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants
In 2012, the squiggly road towards valuable insights from
giants led me to a Google Certiﬁed Partner in Hamburg.
As a “Google Marketing Evangelist”, my mission was to
convince lawyers all over Germany of their beneﬁts from
using Google marketing tools to generate more business.
Adapt or die.
The following images are from Jimmy Nelson’s photographic journey on endangered tribes: “Before they pass away” - www.beforetheypass.com
It’s not just a threat!
Take the opportunity to invent the unexpected.
Reﬁne your competitive
Constantly challenge your status quo and create a
captivating narrative for your tribe.
No gurus required.
A disruptive mindset needs to be internalized by all members of
your business ecosystem, not only by a Chief Disruption Ofﬁcer.
So what do you expect
of your creatives today?
Big ideas, engaging
relevant content, successful
and the like?
We need a broader understanding of creativity in today’s economy.
“We are still very much in the ideas business. Despite how much
more sophisticated the algorithms get at search, contextual and
behavioral ad serving, advertising still has to move you.”
Alan Schulman,Vice President and CCO of North America’s largest digital agency,
SapientNitro, NY. Harvard Business Review Insight Center:“The Future of Advertising”
And keep in mind:
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