On July 18, 2019, Dan LeBatard delivered a three-minute rant on his national radio show in response to the chants made the night before at a President Trump rally. A casual observer might think that an employee of ESPN, who is owned by Disney would follow the fate of others who had decided to voice hard opinions throughout the network’s channels and airwaves – they would no longer be employed.
That did not happen. One day later, LeBatard and cast were back doing their “thing.” Let’s take a step back for a minute. What is their “thing” exactly? Their thing is a four-hour long sports talk radio show broadcast 1,400 miles from EPSN Headquarters in the Clevelander Hotel on South Beach. This is already off the beaten path for ESPN. One other point: the show talks as little about sports as possible. Often times their only serious topics wade into the sensitive waters of race and sexism. They are the ZIG to the company’s ZAG.
Does this disruption work? Short answer is yes. The radio show has over 2.5MM listeners in over 50% of the largest U.S. markets and the podcasts have been downloaded over 50MM times and counting.
Their thing is disrupting their audience constantly with unexpected, unplanned and often crazy content.
As marketers, disruption when done right can be a powerful thing. Chick-Fil-A probably comes to mind immediately. Their mascot is a cow and they are the #1 restaurant in the country for chicken sales – ahead of KFC. Another great example is 2 hospitals in suburban Chicago were merging. They wanted the new brand to be “provocative, but welcoming.” Edward-Elmhurst Healthcare rolled out the “Healthy Driven” campaign using Danica Patrick as their spokesperson. The colors, visuals and messages were out of this world compared to what one would think for hospitals and healthcare. It only resulted in a 75% increase in brand awareness and 12,000 new patients into their business.
Want to do something different? Want to make a splash? Try something disruptive in your marketing. Throw out the rulebooks and be unorthodox. You have to be willing to think extreme. Otherwise, you will not get the show!