As businesses battle to stand out from the crowd and rise above the noise of their competitors, they have increasingly adopted disruptive forms of marketing that can help them achieve this goal. Among the many innovative marketing techniques being adopted is one that is sure to capture attention and generate interest: guerrilla marketing.
This advertising strategy sees companies surprise consumers by placing unusual, out-of-the-box promotional material in unexpected, often very public locations, leaving a lasting impression on viewers. Often low-cost, this approach is heralded for its effectiveness.
But how does it work in reality?
Examples of Guerrilla Marketing
To better understand this strategy – and how it can be implemented successfully – we've compiled a brief list of organisations that have mastered the format.
Here are eight of our favourites:
BBC | 'Dracula' Television Series
This Is Colossal
The UK launch of the BBC original television series Dracula formed the basis of a clever marketing campaign in early 2020.
Aiming to raise awareness of the series and give some insight into its powerful imagery, the network created a simple outdoor billboard, featuring stakes protruding horizontally from the design along with basic details of the show. While visually simple when viewed during the day, a cleverly placed light illuminated the 3D stakes from one side at night, casting a shadow across the billboard in the shape of Dracula's scowling profile and prominently portraying his sharp teeth.
This innovative approach to often-tired billboard marketing gave viewers a glimpse of the new series' creative, entertaining and unique take on the well-known Dracula story.
Swiss Skydive | 'Lift' Campaign
Faced with the need to attract new customers to its business – but with limited advertising funds to launch an extensive campaign – Swiss Skydive turned to novel visual indoor marketing in 2009.
The Luzern-based skydiving school placed realistic floor designs in the lifts of several multistorey buildings, depicting views of the city skyline from above. As a result, riding in these lifts gave citizens a taste of the experience of preparing for a drop, cleverly depicting Swiss Skydive's service offering. The lasting impression on viewers led them to share the campaign online, resulting in significant digital and television coverage praising the effectiveness of the campaign and its placement.
In this way, the campaign, led by Wirz/BBDO Switzerland, succeeded in gaining attention and driving consumer actions with minimal cost.
IBM | Smart Ideas for Smarter Cities
Fast Forward Advisors
As part of its long-running Smarter Cities initiative (a programme first launched in 2009 and designed to develop and implement technology that supports the progress of cities around the world), IBM executed a thought-provoking guerrilla marketing campaign in 2013.
Combining traditional street advertisements with functional furniture, the brand erected benches, rain shelters and stair ramps along several walls throughout London and Paris. These each featured ample room to advertise the simple messaging around IBM's Smart Cities vision, encouraging viewers to not only use the furniture but also to join the conversation by visiting the project's website.
Created by the French office of renowned ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, this street marketing campaign raised awareness around IBM's work on transforming how we live to the general public, as well as providing a purpose to citizens throughout the two cities.
McDonald's | 'Best Fries on the Planet'
The Marketing Birds
In 2011, fast-food giant McDonald's released an innovative campaign in the United States to promote its popular French Fries product.
The outdoor advertisement consisted of a billboard in the familiar shape of a French Fries box, from which ten lasers were projected up to the sky, embodying the brand's famous fries. The golden lasers, complementing the brand's iconic Golden Arches symbol, could be seen from some three miles away. Accompanied by the tagline 'Best Fries on the Planet', the billboard's message was clear.
The ad, developed at Leo Burnett Chicago, was eye-catching yet straightforward, and made the brand's messaging easy to consume in an increasingly ad-resistant consumer environment. It remains one of the best examples of guerrilla marketing and, indeed, of the company’s own innovative promotional approach.
Visa | 'Go Back to Pompeii'
To draw attention to the National Museum of New Zealand's temporary exhibition, 'A Day in Pompei', exhibition sponsor Visa delivered a smart indoor guerrilla marketing campaign at Wellington Airport in 2010.
The financial services giant branded the airport's baggage carousels, depicting a brightly-coloured flow of lava, followed by the name of the exhibition. The accompanying carousel banners shared information regarding Visa's complementary competition, offering Museum visitors who bought exhibition tickets with a Visa card the chance to win a free trip to Italy.
The unexpected location of this marketing was one of the main reasons for the campaign's success, tempting tourists just arriving in – and locals returning to – New Zealand to take action. The campaign was developed at TBWA\Tequila Auckland.
Jeep | 'Parking Space'
Back in 2007, US automobile brand Jeep used simple guerrilla marketing to promote its portfolio of SUVs and crossovers.
It painted a series of white markings around the city of Copenhagen, indicating obviously fake parking spots across uneven areas such as outdoor steps and ledges. The campaign hinted towards the superior off-road abilities of Jeep's 4x4 vehicles, insinuating that they can be driven and parked on all manner of terrains. The campaign helped the brand appeal to inner-city drivers, breaking the stereotype that four-wheel drives are appropriate only for rural citizens.
With just a few white lines and the printed name of Jeep, the company's marketers succeeded in executing an extremely low-cost outdoor campaign that left a lasting impression on its viewers.
Adidas | Shoebox Pop-Up Installations
Global sportswear brand Adidas capitalised on the iconic imagery of its Adidas Originals line in 2011 with two immersive pop-up installations in the shape of the iconic blue Originals shoebox.
Erected in Barcelona and Murcia, the installations were created within the scope of two music festivals frequented by the brand's target market. They aimed to offer visitors a unique Adidas experience that would enhance brand affinity. Within the pop-ups, visitors were photographed by 16 cameras simultaneously, with the images added together to great a short video clip. This content could then be emailed to visitors or shared to their social media profiles, adding an element of digital marketing to the campaign.
Barcelona design studio We Choose Fun created both installations, which were successful in raising awareness and generating demand for the Adidas Originals brand.
Taiwan Beer | Honey Beer Bee Drones
In 2015, Taiwan Beer decided to add a new beverage to its product portfolio: Honey Beer. The launch of this beer, freshly brewed with local honey, required an attention-grabbing introduction to the highly competitive local alcoholic beverage market, which was achieved by executing a public marketing stunt.
Taiwan Beer offered free six-packs of the new beer to consumers who registered to their website, and, using the delivery addresses provided by consumers, dispatched drones to deliver large bee-shaped parcels containing the beer samples. The unexpected sight of giant airborne bees arriving at home and work locations caused enough of a ruckus to disrupt the mature Taiwanese market and made a name for the new Honey Beer product line.
The stunt, coordinated by Wunderman Taiwan, led to 15,000 registrations to Honey Beer's website in just ten days. Moreover, the launch culminated in sales some four times higher than previous beer product launches in the region.
Guerrilla marketing is an innovative, effective and low-cost method that companies can add into their marketing mix to ensure that they stand out from the crowd. This promotional technique works well when used in conjunction with all manner of digital, traditional and mass-marketing campaigns, to amplify powerful messages conveyed to audiences. Budding businesses and entrepreneurs alike can learn from the guerrilla marketing successes of major brands, and adapt these examples using their own geographic segmentation, customer demographics, and more.
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