In written form, the word “guerrilla” appears to be very intense. It evokes feelings of uprising and conflict. Many people will ask, “Huh?” when you place it next to the word “marketing.”
Guerrilla marketing, however, is not a confrontational style of speaking. It raises brand awareness among sizable audiences without interfering with them, making it a very unconventional form of marketing.
What Is Guerilla Marketing?
Guerrilla marketing is a strategy for generating publicity and, consequently, brand awareness through advertising using outlandish techniques meant to inspire surprise, wonder, or shock.
The late business author Jay Conrad Levinson, who wrote several books about guerrilla tactics in a variety of professional fields, coined the phrase in the early 1980s. Naturally, marketing was very different back then, and while guerrilla marketing is still practiced today, the rapidly evolving digital landscape is changing how it looks.
Roots of Warfare
It’s difficult to avoid thinking of guerrilla warfare when we hear the term “guerrilla marketing,” which makes sense given that this type of marketing takes its name from that activity. Guerrilla tactics in warfare heavily rely on the element of surprise. Think, suggests Creative Guerrilla Marketing, of “ambushes, sabotage, and raids.”
But how does that apply to the work we do on a daily basis? Guerrilla marketing tactics primarily rely on the element of surprise. It seeks to design highly unconventional marketing campaigns that pounce on people as they go about their daily lives.
Guerrilla marketing’s relatively low cost is something that marketers really appreciate. The real investment in this case is creative and intellectual; however, its execution need not be pricey. In his article on “guerrilla content,” Michael Brenner succinctly summarizes it. He compares this form of marketing to repurposing your existing content, such as expanding each section of a report into a blog post. It’s a time investment rather than a financial one.
Guerrilla marketing functions somewhat by repurposing the surroundings of your target audience. Determine which parts of it can be evaluated and repurposed to include your brand.
Guerrilla Marketing Pros & Cons
There are benefits and drawbacks to guerrilla marketing. Before deciding whether to move forward with a campaign, take into account both.
Guerrilla marketing’s benefits
- cheap to carry out. Guerrilla marketing is typically much less expensive than traditional advertising, whether it uses a straightforward stencil or a sizable sticker.
- enables original thought. Imagination counts for more in guerrilla marketing than money.
- expands through word-of-mouth. One of the most effective tools in a marketer’s toolbox, word-of-mouth advertising is a key component of guerrilla marketing. Nothing is more effective than generating spontaneous conversation about your campaign.
- Publicity can grow quickly. Local (and even national) news outlets may choose to cover some particularly noteworthy or distinctive guerrilla marketing campaigns, creating a publicity powerhouse effect that makes marketers drool.
Guerrilla Marketing’s Drawbacks
- Unknown messages can be misinterpreted. Guerrilla marketing campaigns frequently have a mystique about them. While this mystique can often propel a campaign’s attention and notice, the lack of clarity can also distort audience perception.
Guerrilla marketing confusion can have severe repercussions, as was the case in 2007 when flashing LED circuit boards advertising the new animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force were covertly placed throughout Boston. Bomb squads were called in to examine and remove the unknown objects after the objects were mistaken for explosive devices, which spread panic throughout the city.
Even though they were later released, the hired installers were detained for mounting “hoax devices.” Although it would be simple to write off this campaign as a failure, the fact that it was covered by major networks across the nation suggests that some may consider it a success despite everything that happened.
- Governmental action. Guerrilla marketing techniques like unlicensed street graffiti can lead to conflict with the law.
- unexpected difficulties. Bad weather, poor timing, and other minor occurrences can easily threaten to derail an entire campaign when used in conjunction with many guerrilla marketing techniques.
- Potential retaliation. Smart consumers may criticize companies who are using guerrilla marketing strategies they don’t like. This is particularly true of undercover marketing campaigns; if you are discovered, get ready to deal with the consequences.
Guerrilla marketing can without a doubt produce excellent results while allowing marketers to express their creativity in a novel way, but it only works for companies that aren’t afraid to take risks.
Types Of Guerrilla Marketing
As specialized as it may seem, guerrilla marketing actually falls into a few categories, according to the company ALT TERRAIN:
- Outdoor Guerrilla Marketing. Guerrilla marketing outside. adds something to already-existing urban settings, such as by attaching something detachable to a statue or by placing transient artwork on sidewalks and streets.
- Indoor Guerilla Marketing. Guerrilla marketing inside. Guerrilla marketing in indoor spaces, such as train stations, stores, and university campus buildings, is similar to outdoor guerilla marketing.
- Guerilla Event Ambush Marketing using an on-going event’s audience, such as a concert or sporting event, to prominently promote a good or service, typically without the event’s sponsors’ consent.
- Guerrilla marketing that is experiential. All of the aforementioned, but done in a way that necessitates consumer engagement.
We are aware that the concept of guerrilla marketing can be a little perplexing without context, so let’s look at some examples of how it has been used by other companies.
Guerrilla Marketing Examples
1. Bounty’s Giant Popsicle
Bounty discovered a novel way to promote its product and the solution it offers, with few words, by placing life-sized “messes” throughout the streets of New York, including a huge, knocked-over coffee cup and a gigantic melting popsicle.
Wouldn’t a succinct billboard advertisement achieve the same goal, you might wonder? Actually not at all. In terms of culture, we’re starting to choose to avoid advertisements in any way we can. We adore features like DVR and ad-free choices on streaming services like Hulu and YouTube because of this. This campaign is more difficult to ignore than an advertisement. After all, would you stop and take a closer look if you came across a melting popsicle the size of your mattress on your way to work? We’d do it.
The key takeaway: Determine the biggest issue that your solution addresses. Then, discover a novel way to communicate that to the general public, preferably without words.
2. Fiji Water’s Fiji Girls
Fiji Water demonstrated an ambush guerrilla marketing success by taking its marketing initiatives all the way to the 2019 Golden Globes in an unexpected way.
Models representing the brand, dressed in the distinctive blue of Fiji Water, took up strategic positions on the red carpet. For any attendees who might be thirsty, they held trays of the branded water in their hands.
While this might have been sufficient to garner attention, one model in particular, Kelleth Cuthbert, got inventive and came up with ways to insert herself into celebrity photos.
As these images proliferated on social media, it was soon clear that Cuthbert was capturing viewers’ attention. She quickly gained the moniker #FigiGirl, giving the company free publicity and increased brand recognition.
This marketing strategy was successful because of its subtle, yet unexpected, and unexpected, features. The brand stood out even though it wasn’t the event’s main attraction.
3. Deadpool’s Tinder Profile
Some Tinder users were shocked to find the legendary comic book anti-hero Deadpool on their app. Before the movie’s Valentine’s Day release, Deadpool broke the fourth wall and introduced himself to potential moviegoers with “cheeky” photos and clever profile copy.
A link to buy tickets was sent to the Tinder user who “swiped right” and “matched” with the character.
Although Tinder isn’t the best way to spread awareness because it only reaches a small portion of users and you’re not legally allowed to use the app for advertising, screenshots of this joke quickly spread on social media and received a ton of attention.
The main lesson is that “interruptive” promotions are not annoying if they result in unexpected joy.
4. KitKat’s Benches
The candy bar company KitKat used an obtrusive outdoor guerrilla marketing strategy to attract attention.
The company created benches that resembled their candy bars out of regular park benches.
This action is a perfect illustration of how to use guerrilla marketing in public settings to bring a product closer to your intended audiences.
The customized bench caught the attention of onlookers who were startled by what they saw. Consequently, the brand left a lasting impression.
5. Childish Gambino’s Ice Cream Pop-Up
Have you ever noticed how effective free food can be as a motivator? Make it a tasty treat, and you’ve got a winning formula.
For his “Summertime Starts Here” pop-up events, where free ice cream was distributed, Childish Gambino probably had this in mind. Gambino’s two singles played loudly over the speakers as people lined up in the heat for some delectable ice cream.
It was a fantastic way to introduce his EP, Summer Pack, to listeners.
The main lesson to be learned: In order to get people’s attention, you sometimes need to offer incentives.
6. Colgate’s Wooden Sticks in Ice-Cream Bars
The Colgate brand is well known for providing product samples at specific events. However, they made the decision to take a slight detour during a specific Oral Health Month.
Wooden sticks designed to look like toothbrushes were produced to be inserted into ice cream bars as a way to advertise its oral hygiene products.
The Colgate logo and the words “Don’t Forget” were also on these sticks, serving as a reminder to those who finished the ice cream to brush their teeth afterward.
This strategy was a novel and surprising way to emphasize to both adults and kids the value of regular brushing.
7. The GRAMMYs Singing Posters
It’s possible that this judgment isn’t entirely accurate because it wasn’t made “in real life.” But if it were, how awesome would that be? The GRAMMYS music awards show produced a video to demonstrate what would occur if posters for the nominated artists just started singing in order to promote the nominees for its Album Of The Year category.
It might seem impossible to carry that out in real life. But suppose you could design musical posters for your company. Again, it differs from a billboard advertisement in that we don’t anticipate moving paper advertisements when we pass a wall of them in, say, New York City. We’ll be the first to admit that this idea isn’t exactly money-saving because it might need some technical work to make it happen. However, even if you could place one moving or digital image among a sea of still ones in a surprising location, like a brick wall, it would surprise viewers and grab their attention.
The key lesson here is to consider the items that your audience may simply pass by every day and make them perform an unexpected or interactive action.
8. Barbie’s Exclusive Bus Stop
In public spaces all over a city, bus stops are a common location for outdoor guerrilla marketing.
These stops are visible to anyone passing by on foot or in a car, not just those who take the buses.
The famous Barbie doll’s manufacturer, Mattel, decided to decorate a bus stop with a Barbie theme in order to draw attention to its brand.
The Barbie brand was represented by the use of the distinguishing pink color as well as interior seating and side messaging.
This strategy not only attracted local residents’ attention, but it was also circulated online, leaving an impression on people nearby and far away.
9. Frontline’s Interactive Floor Ad
I’ll admit that when I first saw this picture, I was duped. “Get that dog away from those flies, please!” I was thinking quickly. Then I understood that neither the dog nor the flies were actual. The latter were actual people, while the former were photographs.
This is due to the fact that Frontline, a company that produces dog flea and tick prevention products, was able to cover the entire floor of this sizable public area with this image. The brand was aware that many people would pass by that area every day and that many would also see it from the upper levels of the building, giving the illusion of a dog and an insect. It’s difficult to overlook and to fail to look twice.
Once more, this campaign differs from traditional marketing because it doesn’t just slap one message everywhere that will probably go unnoticed. It generates an unintentional human interaction that serves to remind the viewer of the function of the product.
The main lesson learned: Consider the potential unconscious responses that people may have to your marketing messages. There are ways to involve people in the campaign even if your product or service, for example, does not address the problem of insect removal.
10. Raising The Roof’s Street Posters
A Canadian nonprofit organization called Raising The Roof that focuses on homelessness wanted to develop a successful marketing campaign without spending a lot of money.
In order to raise awareness of the plight of the city’s homeless youth, they got inventive and employed a guerrilla marketing strategy.
The team made posters to post at various locations throughout the city where it was common for young homeless people to sit and receive no attention from passersby in order to have the greatest impact.
The posters’ provocative content had the potential to make viewers uncomfortable.
According to the poster, “Most people wouldn’t even bother to look down if this poster were a homeless youth.”
The distinctive aspect of this campaign that contributed to its success was the locations picked.
The organization found a way to involve the locals, making them aware of the issue that was right in front of them and raising awareness for a group that was all but ignored in the city’s routine operations.
Making your business more guerrilla-threatened can help you reach a larger audience and boost sales. However, it’s important to take some time to prepare your listing, promotional strategy, and product sales before getting started. By using guerrilla tactics in your business and investment strategies, you can make sure that your business is successful in the long run.