Best Disruptive Digital Marketing Campaigns

Remember Dove’s Real Beauty campaign and how it toppled the then prevalent marketing strategies that fed on women’s insecurities?

Apart from that, Dos Equis beer’s epic campaign, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis” and the absolutely unforgettable ‘Get a Mac,’ are all examples of disruptive marketing.

From TV to digital media, audiences love disruptive campaigns because they force them to think in entirely new directions.

Disruptive campaigns first take you by surprise, and then gradually take the world by storm with their sheer innovativeness and brilliance.

In this article, I have rounded up some of the best disruptive marketing campaigns designed around digital media and have discussed key takeaways to better understand the factors behind their success.


Image Source — HBO Go

HBO Go is saving the world, one awkward millennial moment at a time. — Huffington Post

This was, perhaps, the best line that summed up HBO Go’s digital disruption campaign. The hilarious campaign featured seven videos of a family watching crime shows or graphic sexual scenes on TV.

All the videos have plenty of “Eww” moments and they all end with the same line — “Might be a good time for HBO Go.”

Disruption Quotient

Here, HBO Go could have easily taken the traditional route of highlighting their on-the-go feature with the regular train and subway rides like most ‘on-the-go’ products would. But HBO realized there’s great need for such offerings at home too.

So, they designed a campaign around a family and targeted another problem that millennials face all the time i.e. having to witness those awkward moments on TV when watching shows with parents.

The campaign was applauded widely for its disruptive thinking by the media and the public alike, and everyone on social media was raving about it for days.

Key Takeaways

Good campaigns go on to become great campaigns by presenting the polar opposite of social or marketing norms. They deflate conventional marketing ideas and set new conventions by recognizing alternative problems and answering them in their own unique way.

Singapore Red Cross

Image Source —

When it comes to inventive thinking, Japan and many Asian countries appear to be the most disruptive thinkers in the world. The ‘Blood Ties’ campaign by Singapore Red Cross (SRC) was a unique one, geared towards the youth for a blood donation drive.

It took a very fresh,non-preachy approach towards blood donation by capitalizing on the selfie craze. Crowdsourcing was the focal point of this campaign,determining its success or failure. So they roped in many local celebrities, musicians, comedians, bloggers, etc. to ensure the trend catches on. For instance, Nathan Hartono came up with “I have music in my blood. What’s in yours?”These celebrity selfies were widely promoted on various social media channels and the public was asked to upload their selfies with hashtags like #bloodties#inmyblood (their passion like music, acting, or dancing, etc.) #sgredcross #ydcsg.

Disruption Quotient

Here’s another campaign for blood donation.

Image Source —

Now compare campaign 1 with campaign 2. I would bet my last penny that the first campaign got better results than the second one.

The difference between both the campaigns is crystal clear. Blood Ties changes the way we perceive blood donation; it makes blood donation cool, taking a break from the usual humdrum of altruism, sympathy and life-saving.

Key Takeaways

The inherent ‘coolness’ of the first campaign is what makes it share-worthy. It changes the way we perceive an ‘act of kindness,’ which suddenly it becomes an ‘act of coolness’. In the age of social media, success comes from making your campaigns ‘shareable’. Look at the success of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It was cool and fun, and got the message across without preaching anything. That’s disruption at its best.

Lost and Love Movie

While we are at it, here’s one more example from Asia that I couldn’t resist sharing.

This campaign is an ideal example of merging marketing and technology. This 2015 Chinese movie tugged at my heartstrings with a simple WeChat promotional initiative.

(Note: WeChat is one of the biggest messaging apps in China and there’s a good reason behind it too. But that story is for another time.)

The promotion started with a question, “When did you last take a photo with your dad?” The next screen asked you to put in yours and your father’s date of birth. This generated an animated image of a Chinese Zodiac sign of you and your father, as shown below.

In the end it said, “You can’t choose your dad, but you can choose to take him to the movies.” This was followed by the appearance of a call-to-action button to buy tickets for the movie.

Disruptive Quotient

This promotional gimmick paid off not because of one factor. The simplicity of digital interaction, the underlying message that tugged at your heartstrings, and the fact that no one had tried this before created a disruption in the country. It is so difficult to write a sentence that uses technology and emotion together. However, this campaign seamlessly unites the two and creates quite an experience for users!

Key Takeaways

Never be afraid to combine two seemingly unrelated ideas. In fact, find opportunities to make your disruptive campaign more unique and effective through the use of the newest technologies and basic human emotions!


Patrón Wine and Spirits is another example of a brand that uses the latest technology in its campaign. This recently launched brand uses a drone to capture their tequila making process — from an agave field to a production plant, it captures everything about tequila making and bottling of spirits. The campaign is known as The Art of Patrón.

Disruption Quotient

Patrón has gone where no one has treaded before. They are pioneers in the liquor industry using virtual reality technology for a marketing campaign that was planned around the time of Cinco de Mayo. Adrian Parker, VP of Patrón, said that the campaign was designed to show their “artisanal over automation” method that tells the story behind the craft of tequila making. The Art of Patron will be featured at launch events and tastings around the country.

Key Takeaways

If you are launching a new product or brand, a ‘me-too’ type of campaign will never get people interested in your product. So, you are under more pressure than ever to create a disruptive campaign. Here, Patrón has used technology to make people see the difference between its product and that of others. You can create ultimate disruption by using novel ways of showcasing your disruptive ideas.


One of the best ways to create disruption is to be humorous and have the ability to laugh at yourself. It might not always work in your favor, but if the success of Toyota’s disruptive campaign is anything to go by, people seem to like these kinds of campaigns.

On the occasion of Earth Day, Toyota and Droga5 released a ‘Fueled by Bulls**t’ video that showed how Mirai, a hydrogen-powered car can run on bulls**t. Not literally, but it demonstrates how a scientist helps a dairy farmer by taking manure and converting it into fuel for the car.

The video ends with the statement, “We are driving down the road, running on bulls**t.”

What more disruption can you expect!

Key Takeaway

Come on, which big company you know makes bulls**t videos? But, if you think you can do it as amazingly as Toyota, you must go ahead and do it right away!

Air Wick

Did you know there is a tool that ‘enables you to pair the perfect scent and home decor ideas with the mood you want to create in your home’?

Oh, but that’s possible and Air Wick’s Scent Decorator does just that. This microsite is a combination of a Buzz-feed style quiz, tarot reading, and Instagram, all blended together in one delightful package.

Haven’t seen it yet? Here, try it out. This is what I got. Based on this mood, I got product recommendation, expert insights on decoration and a how-to guide for a DIY home décor project.

Disruptive Quotient

You have to commend Droga5 for coming up with disruptive ideas, irrespective of whether they are dealing with scents or bulls**t.

This simple, interactive digital campaign is not just a haphazard quiz. As a matter of fact, Air Wick’s data scientists and internal experts developed the quiz after applying the findings of a scientific research that mapped moods of people according to scent categories.

Allison Eve Zell from Droga5 said, “Our sense of smell works before language, so the impetus of the idea is that if scents form images, the tool should, too. Pictures also perform better online.” They found specific color or texture tied to a scent and then went on to create this picture-based quiz. It took them a year to develop the whole campaign.

So all in all, in terms of disruption, this is one of the best examples of campaigns that combine technology, human behavior and science!

Key Takeaway

It might take just a minute to come up with a great disruptive idea, but much longer to develop it into something concrete. Be patient and don’t give up on an idea just because it will take long to execute it. Always follow your ideas to their end.

Over to you

Did you like these campaigns? On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the poorest, what do you think about their disruption quotient. Also are you planning a disruptive campaign in the future?

If yes, we have created this interesting infographic on disruptive digital marketing which outlines 5 major points of differentiation and disruption while citing some examples like NBACares and Stratos project. You can choose any of these and base your next campaign on them. Hope it helps!

Created by E2M