When was the last time you saw something funny or interesting, only to find out later that it was a viral marketing ad?
In a world where people hate the constant barrage of ads, advertisers are ditching the oversaturated means of traditional advertising for new unconventional methods. This trend has been on-going since the 1980s and has been coined “Guerrilla Marketing.”
In recent years, the popularity of Guerrilla Marketing has increased massively due to its success and ability to cause an emotional response, compared to traditional marketing methods. Not to mention, it’s also a lot cheaper!
If you work in PR, then guerrilla marketing is something you should be studying closely. With so much to learn from successful guerrilla campaigns, the people who think up these ads are at the forefront of advertising, and you can learn a lot from copying their tricks.
To help you understand how powerful guerrilla marketing is, and how any marketer can incorporate it into their marketing strategy, we’re taking a look at its many forms.
To get started, let’s take a closer look at the history of guerrilla marketing strategy and how it differs from other strategies.
What Is Guerrilla Marketing?
To put it simply, guerrilla marketing is an creative unconventional marketing strategy that is usually low-cost and high impact. Unlike traditional campaigns such as TV ads, posters, and billboards, guerrilla marketing often takes place in public spaces for maximum publicity and exposure.
Sometimes referred to as experiential marketing it can also involve street marketing that engages directly with an audience and invites them to participate in a brand experience event.
Although the guerrilla marketing technique usually involves an unconventional advertising method (which we will cover later), the stunt will typically be captured and used on traditional advertising methods such as TV.
Types of Guerrilla Marketing
Now you have a good understanding of guerrilla marketing; it’s essential to understand that there are many different forms and types of these creative marketing ideas. Over the years, there has been a range of campaigns that can be grouped into specific categories.
These categories are by no means an extensive list as new types of guerrilla marketing are being used every year. But for now, here are some of the most used and popular categories.
They might not sound like a great marketing strategy, but stickers are very compact, diverse, and can be stuck almost anywhere. Most strategies revolve around designing stickers that interact someway with an existing environment, whether it be an indoor or outdoor public space.
Also known as ambient marketing, this type of tactic can help immensely with brand awareness and reaching a specific target audience.
To give you an idea of what a guerrilla sticker campaign looks like, here is a sticker campaign by Tyskie, a Polish beer brand that advertises all over Europe.
As you can see, these simple stickers turn the door handles on restaurants and bars into large beer steins. A perfect place to advertise your beer before customers go in to order a drink.
Made famous by the original T-Mobile advert, the flash mob strategy is excellent at making a scene and getting publicity. The idea involves a large group of undercover dancers or singers performing in a public space to the unsuspecting public. Although you would have to be there to experience the full power of it, many people’s reactions are often recorded and used on their traditional marketing campaigns (such as TV and YouTube) after the event.
This was one of the first uses of flash mobs and gained lots of publicity for T-Mobile when it was launched. The company also went on to do other flash mob-style stunts in the future after the success of the first one.
As you probably well know, graffiti is a form of vandalizing which is often frowned upon and is classed as criminal damage in most countries. With this in mind, why on earth would companies risk fines and prosecution by using street art? Well, there is a way to get around this legal complication by “reversing” the graffiti.
Also referred to as “reverse graffiti” or “clean advertising” the process involves blasting dirt off the ground in a specific area in order to generate a word or logo. By using large stencils, the process takes only a few minutes, and the results can last for months. Considering there is no paint being put on the ground, it can’t be classed as criminal damage.
As you can see from the picture above, clean advertising is super effective and produces a clear visible image that will last months. Considering the cost of the campaign and how many people will see it, the ROI would be exciting for any business.
Similar to reverse graffiti and clean advertising, this unique marketing method is even more eye-catching. Following the same process as most street advertising, a stencil is sprayed on the ground with a special spray that stops water from soaking in. The result? A hidden advertising messages that only appear when it starts to rain!
A type of stealth marketing technique, any brand can take advantage of this marketing tactic pretty easily and is an excellent guerrilla tactic that can lead to lots of potential marketing ideas.
Not only are these messages super unique, but their creativity often spawns a lot of social media buzz. Not only do they advertise their message to passersby, but they also get free social media shares from unsuspecting users sharing them.
When was the last time you walked past a train or bus stop billboard and thought “Wow, that’s cool!”, probably never right?
Well every now and then, some businesses create fantastic 3D billboards that really stand out and attract a lot of attention. Take a recent stunt by Netflix and their 3D advertisements to promote their show Altered Carbon.
The company installed what looked like naked people in big plastic bags next to bus stops across America. Upon a closer look, the 3D models actually moved like a breathing human to add to the shock and awe factor.
The result? State and nationwide cover from a range of news outlets across the country.
Guerrilla Marketing Examples
Now you’ve got a good understanding of the different styles and strategies marketers use to make themselves stand out from the crowd, what about some real-world guerrilla marketing examples?
To inspire you even more and convince you to set your sights on making your own guerrilla marketing campaign, here are some of the most impressive and effective guerrilla marketing ideas to date.
7. Frontline Shopping Centre Ad
This guerrilla marketing campaign involves a large picture of a dog on the floor of a busy supermarket while unsuspecting passersby walk all over it. From the ground level, you might not be able to tell what you’re walking on (unless you really know your dogs!) However, when you look over the railings from the first floor or higher, you suddenly see a giant dog scratching himself.
The genius part about this advert is that the passersby unknowingly become the fleas that the dog is trying to scratch off. From the birds-eye view, it’s clear to see what’s happening and once you see it, you just have to share it.
The best thing about this advert is the optical illusion it plays on people and the reaction once people realize what it is. Although the campaign itself was fairly limited in terms of areas it was rolled out, it’s still a fantastic guerrilla marketing example and how they can outperform traditional methods.
6. Jeff Goldblum NowTV
In an effort to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Jurassic Park, NowTV commissioned a colossal statue of Jeff Goldblum and placed him next to the Tower Bridge in London.
As you can imagine, this guerrilla marketing tactic attracted plenty of people to the giant statue who all started uploading thousands of pictures to social media networks and posing in front of him.
The stunt also included plenty of branded NowTV chairs so you could sit down and “admire the Goldblum”.
As crazy and as pointless as it may seem, the stunt was actually promoting something. Not only was it promoting the on-demand video service NowTV, but it was also promoting the release of Jurassic Park on their service.
The result? Lots of free social media buzz as well as lots of brand exposure from national newspapers and press.
5. Carlsberg Interactive Ad
Carlsberg has been very successful over the years with its “probably the best beer” advertising campaign. The campaign has seen hundreds of different billboards, TV adverts and unconventional ads over the years referring to the campaign “If Carlsberg did…”
One of their most famous unconventional advertising campaigns would have to be their best poster in the world campaign that was set up in Shoreditch, London for one day only.
The billboard simply displayed the words “probably the best poster in the world” but attached underneath was a Carlsberg beer tap that members of the public could use to pour themselves a beer.
As you can imagine, free beer in the middle of London at the start of summer caused a huge commotion with passersby literally queuing up for hours just to get a free pint.
In the end, the billboard was a huge success and help spread brand awareness for Carlsberg all over the world and featured various coverage from national newspapers such as the Sun, Mirror, Metro, and Telegraph.
4. TNT Interactive Ad
When it comes to guerrilla marketing, there’s nothing better than a stunt that attracts a crowd and generates lots of social media buzz. A great example of this is an interactive ad by the TV network TNT. This unsuspecting ad took place in a small Belgium town with just a button outside. They then waited for someone to press it, before starting the televised PR stunt.
The ad itself involves a lot of action and drama in a dramatic sequence carried out by tens of actors and stuntmen in front of a live street audience. The scene ends in a huge banner dropping down from the building with information about the TV channel.
As bizarre as it sounds and looks, it’s definitely something memorable and probably had a much longer-lasting impact on the people who saw it live vs on TV.
This ad currently has over 56 million views on YouTube and over 411,000 likes, although the ad is technically a conventional TV ad, the live ad would have been an entirely different experience. But with so many social shares and views, it’s clear the stunt was a big success.
3. Bounty Big Spills
Have you ever made a big spill and needed something to clean it up? What about a BIG spill? Something like a 6-foot cup of coffee spill? Probably not, but Bounty thought they would stretch your imagination by making them a reality anyway.
In 2009, they produced some enormous sculptures of a coffee cup and ice lolly and placed them in the middle of New York and Los Angeles. As you can imagine, in two of the busiest cities in the US, they caused quite a commotion with passersby.
Each big spill sculpture also had a little sign just visible in the corner, so anyone taking pictures was sure to capture the Bounty logo and slogan.
As simple as it might sound, the entire execution of this guerrilla advertising campaign was a lot cheaper than the likes of a TV advert and probably reduced better results. Although social media wasn’t as big back in 2009, this advertising stunt still attracted a lot of attention from newspapers and other media outlets.
2. RaisingTheRoof Homeless Posters
Sometimes for a guerrilla marketing campaign, all you need is the basics. No fancy dancers, sculptures, or actors, just a powerful message and a bit of creativity. This is exactly what RaisingTheRoof managed to achieve with their simple yet perfectly executed homeless posters campaign.
The campaign featured carefully placed adverts around the city in places you would usually find homeless sleepers. The posters included messages such as “if this poster were a homeless youth, most people wouldn’t even bother to look down.” Underneath the posters, they had a link to the organization’s Facebook page to educate people on what they can do to help the homeless.
As simple as this guerrilla marketing campaign was, it really helped spread awareness of homeless youths in the area.
Although this wasn’t a campaign with media and TV attention in mind (which it did achieve anyway) the main objective was to spread awareness of youth homelessness in the area. Compared to other methods of advertising, this raw and creative campaign really did bring attention to homeless people in the area.
1. Jeep Parking
If you’ve been to many car parks in your life then you’ve probably seen some questionable spaces in terms of size or location. Yet the car manufacturer Jeep, managed to take this concept of crazy parking locations and turn them into an excellent guerrilla marketing campaign.
To show their off-road power, Jeep produced a range of parking places and placed them in very difficult and unconventional spots. Let’s just say that if you were in a normal car, then the chances of you parking in them would be pretty slim.
Not only does this help promote Jeeps, impressive off-road capabilities, but it also makes you think “what the?” especially when you see one in a very tricky place.
Hopefully, these guerrilla campaign examples give you a good idea of how you could utilize the power of creative marketing in your business. Just because traditional advertising methods have been around for a long time doesn’t mean you have to use them. There are plenty of other alternatives out there that can bring just as good returns.