Q: What do voice assistants, a vegan sausage roll and a razor advert have in common?
A: They all shook things up.
Amazon launched Alexa in 2014, but today the technology is still trailed by privacy concerns. Last month, the Guardian asked readers if they’ll be getting ‘a smart home spy for Christmas’,1 among stories of homeowners being eavesdropped on by their virtual assistants. On the other hand, millions of users have praised the product and it’s rated 4.6 stars on Amazon.2 Whether you love Alexa or cannot stand her honeyed tones, the technology is become ever more ubiquitous and intimate in our lives: Alexa’s new feature, launched at CES 2019, is integration into “smart toilets”.3
Following Piers Morgan’s outraged tweet, Greggs’ vegan sausage roll caused a Twitter eruption this month. While celebrated by many, the plant-based pastry was also met with ambivalence, scepticism and even, outrage. No matter what side you’re on however, the new product rocketed the bakery’s share price drastically.4 The PR industry praised the campaign as ‘a masterclass in public relations’.5
The same could be said for Gillette’s most recent TV advert. In today’s post-MeToo era, the razor company released an advert depicting examples of toxic masculinity with the slogan, ‘is this the best a man can get?’. YouTube views shot up to 2 million in less than 48 hours,6 and it triggered an online storm around masculinity and sexual harassment. While some disgruntled (male) customers took to Twitter to encourage a boycott of the brand, others praised the advert’s message.
Really, what these controversial stories have in common is that people listened and responded, whether in praise or criticism. It got people’s attention, and sometimes getting people’s attention means shaking things up.
This is especially true in complacent markets. Complacency is a comfortable state of staticity: it doesn’t take much effort to maintain, but at the same time, it doesn’t bring success.
Last year, Accenture released their ‘Disruptability Index’. It cited factors which impacted disruption in different industries along with a game plan which deals with being disrupted, entitled ‘rotating to the new’. The key thread running through this is, unsurprisingly, the “new”. Urging readers with ‘Don’t wait: act’, the Index highlights complacency as a vulnerability to disruption.7
While often causing discomfort, the “new” is crucial to innovation. Renewing structures mean rejecting the ones that already exist: breaking down the norms in order to build up the innovative.
Our biggest summit to date, Chief Disruptor LIVE (18-19 March), is geared to shake things up and challenge the norms. We have the attention of giants and disruptors from industries including the financial services, retail, media and the public sector, who want to put a stop to the complacency that hinders innovation.
The idea of implementing renewal is central to the discussion the Managing Director of Ola will be exploring in his keynote, ‘The Complacency Index’, as well as the Chief Strategy Officer of the Guardian Media Group in his visionary talk, ‘Turning It Around’. Jam-packed with strategies and ideas to update and upgrade your business, together we’ll be gearing up for a future of innovation and disruption.
If anyone needs me in the meantime, I’ll be talking to Alexa while shaving my legs with a Gillette razor and eating a vegan sausage roll.
Will you be getting a smart home spy for Christmas? The Guardian [online]. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/nov/10/spy-christmas-smart-home-facebook-portal-google-home-hub-amazon-show-alexa [accessed 24.01.2019]
Amazon Echo (2nd Gen). Amazon [online]. Available: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Amazon-Echo-Devices/Amazon-Echo-2nd-Generation-Charcoal-Fabric/B06Y5ZW72J/ref=sr_1_1?s=amazon-devices&ie=UTF8&qid=1548266629&sr=1-1&keywords=amazon+echo [accessed 24.01.2019]
CES roundup: All the best tech from the Consumer Electronics Show 2019. The Mirror [online]. Available: https://www.mirror.co.uk/tech/ces-roundup-best-tech-consumer-13844411 [accessed 24.01.2019]
King, E. What launching a #vegansausageroll did to Greggs share price. Twitter [online] https://twitter.com/edking_I/status/1083104864891273216 [accessed 24.01.2019]
Hickman, A. Hello Piers, we’ve been expecting you: industry pros salivate over Greggs vegan sausage roll PR masterclass. PR Week [online]. Available: https://www.prweek.com/article/1522045/hello-piers-weve-expecting-you-industry-pros-salivate-greggs-vegan-sausage-roll-pr-masterclass [accessed 24.01.2019]
Baggs, M. Gillette faces backlash and boycott over '#MeToo advert'. BBC [online]. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-46874617 [accessed 24.01.2019]
Obbash, O. Disruption need not be an enigma. Accenture [online]. Available: https://www.accenture.com/gb-en/insight-leading-new-disruptability-index [accessed 24.01.2019]