Guerilla Marketing - Tips and Examples | W3 Lab

Guerilla Marketing – Tips and Examples

Today we will present guerrilla marketing. What it is, how to become a guerrilla marketer and how you can use it. The term ‘guerrilla warfare’ refers to the tactic of military groups setting up raids, sabotages, and ambushes, hence where the term for marketing comes from.

Throughout the year, every day, every moment, we are bombarded with information and promotions by various companies. Everyone is fighting for the moment of our attention and we are more and more resistant to various marketing activities. What will make a company stand out in the sea of marketing messages?

What is guerrilla marketing?

It can be used for showcasing the creativity of the marketing team.

guerrilla marketing - colorful letters
Guerrilla marketing requires creative and unconventional thinking. | Source: Unsplash

Guerrilla marketing is a strategy that uses unconventional solutions and a surprise factor to attract the attention of the audience and thus promotes a product, service, or idea.

Although difficult to define accurately, it represents any type of unconventional promotion, usually evoking unique and memorable reactions or interactions with viewers.

Guerrilla marketing is creative, exciting, lively, energetic, surprising, accessible, breaking the rules, seeking attention, efficient, viral…

It has two important goals:

  • Causing emotion in the audience
  • Making the audience remember a product, service, or idea

For this type of marketing, you need three things the most: energy, time, and imagination.

Guerrilla marketing differs significantly from other marketing strategies and its characteristics are:

  1. It’s not expensive – this strategy is mostly based on creativity, so you don’t need huge budgets to succeed.
  2. It is focused on the size of the audience – it strives to reach as many people as possible. This campaign reaches two groups of people. The first are those who are in direct contact with the campaign itself (they came across a marketing guerrilla message), and the second group are people who hear about this campaign from the first group. Often these campaigns also go viral because of their creativity. Viral marketing here is a kind of amplifier of the message of guerrilla marketing.
  3. It uses a surprise factor – often the audience is surprised by the message, so they remember the message better.

This form of marketing is ideal for those who have just started their business and want to build their brand, but cannot afford to spend tons of money on ads.

Of course, if you have a larger budget, it won’t hurt to learn a little more about this form of marketing, because it can be useful for all sorts of businesses.

When it comes to guerrilla marketing, it is important to think outside of the box. You will need to find a way to attract the attention of your target audience.

This type of marketing used to be used only in the real world, the streets, and different places, but today we have the Internet. Through it, we can reach our target audience more easily and very effectively.

Why is it called guerrilla marketing? 

The term guerrilla appeared in 1960 when Ernesto Che Guevara published his book “Guerrilla Warfare“.

He described guerrilla warfare tactics in which atypical tactics are used, ambush attacks to achieve a target in a highly competitive environment and uncompromising environment.

But the first signs of guerrilla marketing did not appear until 1984 by American business writer Jay Conrad Levinson in his book “Guerrilla Marketing: secrets for making big profits from your small business“.

In this book, he described marketing aimed at creating “whispers”.

whispering - two women talking
Guerrilla marketing is aimed at creating whispers. | Source: Unsplash

These whispers are about a product or brand that would result in consumers being more likely to buy products or services or talk about it with other potential customers.

He compared unconventional advertising practices with guerrillas, which are nothing more than an independent and irregular military organization with few resources.

They waged small wars against larger armies using cunning tactics to surprise the enemy such as ambushes, sabotages, and traps.

Guerrilla marketing is generally legal, but you need tobe careful of a few things. Due to the nature of guerrilla marketing, the purpose of an advertising campaign must be clear to avoid being misunderstood by your audience.

Keep the following things in mind:

  • Campaigns, because they have not been tested before, can be criticized. You need to be very careful about all the meanings of your campaign and what feelings it will arouse in different groups of people.
  • You will often need permits. As these campaigns are most often implemented in public areas, you will need permits from the institution responsible for that public area. If you decide to skip seeking permission, you are going beyond the legal framework and may be the subject of a lawsuit.
  • You need to take responsibility for what you do.

Given all the previously mentioned characteristics of guerrilla marketing, the whole philosophy of this approach implies walking on the thin ice. With the desire to provoke as much publicity as possible, it often happens that companies make extremely dangerous moves.

legal - woman statue holding scales
Guerrilla marketing can sometimes mean walking on thin ice when it comes to law. | Source

Guerrilla marketing is considered illegal when a brand tries to capitalize on an intellectual property that they have not paid to be a part of, you need to know what to do, where to do it, and what you want from it.

Probably, one of the worst examples of guerrilla marketing is the attempt of a Canadian to promote a website for playing games online at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Namely, he wrote the name of the page on his stomach and jumped into the water using the diving board which was intended for the participants.

He was punished with 3 months in Greek prison. Ultimately, he was released and given a fine of a few hundred dollars.

Types of guerrilla marketing

Here are some types of guerrilla marketing:

  1. Ambient marketing
  2. Marketing ambush
  3. Hidden marketing
  4. Viral / buzz marketing
  5. Street Marketing

Ambient marketing

Ambient marketing uses an environment that already exists. Advertisements are placed in certain places or objects where they are not otherwise placed.

zoo bus guerilla marketing example
Incredible guerrilla marketing example, isn`t it?

The goal of this type of marketing is to surprise the audience. Using a bus stop for advertising is a common form of marketing, but using a seat at a stop as part of advertising is something innovative and different.

The first characteristic of ambient marketing is its unusual placement of an ad, which in itself attracts attention. We can say that those campaigns use the environment wisely and create a “wow” factor.

Another important item of this marketing is execution. Will what is imagined create a planned impact on the audience and the desired reaction of the audience.

The advantages of ambient marketing are:

  • Attracts attention
  • Easy to remember
  • Low price
  • It can go viral – people want to share interesting experiences with friends, most often using social networks
  • Reaching a wider audience – such advertisements are often placed in places where a large number of people pass, thus reaching a wide variety of audiences

Marketing ambush

This type of marketing uses events for promotion but the company being promoted is not tied to the event itself.

Marketing ambushes can be conducted by companies that are not official sponsors of an event. Their marketing activities create an image to the public as if they are part of that event.

This type of marketing is often on the verge of legal, so you should be especially careful with this type of marketing.

Hidden marketing

This type of message is exposing the audience to a marketing campaign without their knowledge that it is a marketing campaign.

The goal is not to create a sale, but to create a certain feeling and excitement as well as interest in a certain product, service, or idea.

This type of campaign can be used by both smaller and larger companies, but they are much better for large companies, with large budgets.

The reason is that this message is only one component of the whole campaign, it only serves to interest potential customers and users.

Viral / buzz marketing

This type of marketing is specially created to encourage the further transmission of the marketing message. It is based on the use of enhanced and organic communication between people, in the form of buzz around a product, service, or idea.

The person who came across the marketing campaign passes on their experiences and impressions in communication with others (“word of mouth”) or through social networks (“word of mouse”).

Street Marketing

Street marketing is a recent term for the type of outdoor guerrilla marketing.

It refers to all marketing actions that take place outdoors, introducing street elements into the game.

2012 movie - guerilla marketing ad
Guerrilla marketing in movie advertising, why not?

Some of the most successful street marketing campaigns use street art for their brand. A typical example is the guerrilla marketing campaign created by McDonald’s.

Which companies use guerrilla marketing and why?

Guerrilla marketing is perfect for small or medium-sized businesses to present their products or services to their consumers without investing much money.

question mark - neon lights - hallway - graffiti
Who uses this type of marketing and why? | Source: Unsplash

Successful and well-designed marketing is the basis for achieving business success. If a company wants to become visible in the market, it is necessary to present itself to the general public.

Guerrilla marketing has enabled small and medium businesses to focus on their marketing program and creativity with limited resources.

On the other hand, the financial power that large companies have allows them to invest huge funds in marketing activities. It also leaves them enough space to launch a completely new marketing campaign if it turns out that the previous campaign did not give the desired results.

Today, we know that big companies like Coca-Cola, Burger King, and Red Bull also run great guerrilla marketing campaigns because their goal is to convince consumers as credibly as possible of their advertising, without using the press, radio, and TV as traditional types of advertising.

Therefore, we can say with certainty that guerrilla marketing is used with small and medium budget, as well as with large but for different purposes.

Small companies with a limited budget are the ones that use this type of marketing the most. The point is to be direct and easy to understand. Since small businesses have small budgets, sometimes the only option is to think outside the box.

Some examples of guerrilla marketing strategies which implementation should be simple but creative enough to catch someone’s attention are:

  1. Graffiti is a well-known method
  2. Projected video
  3. Audience participation
  4. Mascots are always cool
  5. Advertise using a means of transport
  6. Take advantage of interesting packaging, labels

Graffiti is a well-known method

They are artistic but cheap, you only need spray paint cans. Graffiti is a convenient form of guerrilla marketing, innovative, clean for the environment, and popular in recent years.

Guerrilla or pure graffiti is similar to normal graffiti, but with a big difference – clean surfaces of the city are not damaged, the unappealing ones are made to look better.

Projected video

Guerrilla marketing has the power to go viral instantly. The video has the same characteristic. Video production itself can be very cheap, as long as the brand’s message is conveyed in a creative way.

video projection on a building- guerrilla marketing- city at night - city lights
Your ad can have this big of an impact. | Source: Flickr

Think of it as a responsive mini ad. It is more interesting than a billboard and can cover larger areas.

The company projects its message (as a video). The higher the position of the projection, the more people will see it. But it has to be a visual message that will make people stop.

Audience participation

User-generated content can be very surprising and different from what a marketing team would create. An Instagram photo contest, which requires customers to take short videos or share stories, can be an amazing guerrilla technique.

During April, in the midst of quarantine, Nike released a video that presents a collage of home videos of their users, and albeit a couple of celebrities, where they can be seen exercising and playing sports at home.

Mascots are always cool

People love them and love to take pictures with them. Research has shown that this is in fact one of the most popular guerrilla strategies.

Put the mascot on the line when planning an event or capture it on social media. Definitely an interesting way of marketing.

Advertise using a means of transport

A striking image or logo on your personal delivery vehicle can have a strong impact on passers-by who have seen the advertisement.

Take advantage of interesting packaging, labels, or flyers – it doesn’t matter which of these tactics you choose, it’s important that your message is conveyed to potential users.

Tips on making a successful campaign

Guerrilla means something more. Guerrilla uses the usual means of communication in an unusual way! Real guerrillas do not hesitate to use everything they can to convey their message and evoke unforgettable emotions.

This type of communication is carefully prepared, messages are created to be effective, but also to do their job, to sell a product!

tips and tricks - wireless headphones
Read about tips that will help you create successful guerrilla campaign.

In order for a guerrilla marketing campaign to be successful, it is necessary, among other things it has to be:

  1. Clever
  2. Dynamic
  3. Memorable
  4. Effective
  5. Endearing

Make it clever

It is important to know what you want to say, not just how you are going to say it. The essence of your message is what matters the most, not the witty way you will convey that message. So, make it clever, it will be memorable for sure.

Make it dynamic

Break the usual way of communication, not the law!

Individuals think that guerrilla marketing is spraying a web address on the walls. It’s not guerrilla marketing, it’s just vandalism. Be mysterious, not rude, and make it dynamic.

Make it memorable

Be better, not just different. Don’t get into a guerrilla campaign just because you think it’s interesting.

If you don’t have an idea that is guerrilla in itself, don’t start a campaign. The idea is to be better than others in a different way, not just to be different.

Make it effective

Your guerrilla campaign should not be a joke circulating in the city. It must sell a particular product or service. If it does not achieve that effect, then it is not marketing. Then it’s just a good gag you pay for.

Make it endearing

People love all things free, which is why some of the most engaging guerrilla campaigns are tied to free giveaways.

Guerrilla marketing ideas

Here are some of the best and cheapest guerrilla marketing ideas so you can create memorable campaigns in the eyes of your target audience.

  1. Funny signboard design
  2. Infographics
  3. Smartly use coasters
  4. Take advantage of the landscape
  5. Use business cards
  6. Free food

Funny sidewalk sign design

You’ve probably seen photos of funny sidewalk signs. Businesses joke about everything from Tinder and whiskey to politics and politicians.

winter is coming - sidewalk sign - sidewalk ad - funny ad - guerrilla marketing
This one is using famous Game of Thrones line to attract customers. | Source: Pxhere

They can make any passer-by laugh. As a result, people post pictures of your sign on social media. In that way, they spread the word about your brand on social media and also enter through your door and buy your products.

Infographics

Infographics usually use data to visually present a set of ideas in an interesting way.

You can collect data yourself by surveying your customers, or you can take a unique and fun idea that complements your brand and search for statistics on the web.

Smartly use coasters

If you own a bar or restaurant, customers will probably spend their entire meal with a coaster in front of them.

They will often raise the glass to read what is written on the coaster. That’s why coasters can be a great place to add a surprising or innovative marketing idea that your customers are guaranteed to see.

Take advantage of the landscape

Guerrilla marketing campaigns are known to often manipulate urban landscapes in some way – through subway signs, ads at bus stops, crazy shop windows, chalk on the sidewalk, or spray paint.

Think about the area around your business – you can use it to create interesting advertising that makes people stop and think.

Use business cards

A business card is a way to advertise your brand. At whatever event you are one thing is for sure – many people may ask for your business card.

business cards - pen - pens - blue pen - red pen
Business cards are perfect blank canvas you can use. | Source: Hippopox

Having a business card that made people laugh or created an emotion would definitely make an impression.

Free food

Human nature is such that people love free things. Another good guerrilla marketing idea is to share free food.

Set up a table near your bar, set a day when you will share free food, and new customers will come to your door waiting in line.

Any other type of a giveaway will have the same effect.

Great guerrilla marketing examples

This type of marketing revolves around creativity, so if you’re a creative person, you can achieve a lot for not a lot of money.

Our examples are:

  1. The Sopranos  
  2. ModCloth’s
  3. McDonald’s
  4. Kit Kat
  5. Ikea
  6. NIKE
  7. Snapchat
  8. UNICEF
  9. Coca-Cola
  10. GoldToe bull stunt

The Sopranos  

Even the ones that have millions use guerrilla marketing.

Several cabs roamed the streets of New York with realistic plastic arms coming out of the trunk. Is there a better way of promoting a show about a mafia family?

the sopranos guerilla marketing example
The Sopranos – Guerrilla Marketing Example | Source: pinterest.com

Next to the arm was a black sticker that said ‘Sopranos’ in red letters and ‘only on HBO’ in white letters, as effective as the arms and very easy to notice. There’s no way that anyone who’s seen it was left completely indifferent, and the chance of people going home and looking the show up is very high.

sopranos guerilla marketing

This is what we want to achieve with our guerrilla marketing. We want to approach a certain audience, attract their attention and make them learn more about what we’re showing.

Selling a product shouldn’t be the only thing we have in mind when we’re doing an ad campaign or marketing. Sometimes it can be brand awareness or getting familiar with a brand. If you’ve just started your business and people aren’t very familiar with it, this way of thinking can help you a lot.

Influencers can spread your brand awareness very effectively, and there are numerous approaches to this.

ModCloth’s

This blogger reachedhuge audience using guerrilla marketing. She wrote about a number of things, but in one moment she came up with naming her dresses after famous influencers.

Every time she created a new dress, she would name it after an influencer. This way, those bloggers would include her in their posts and make their audience familiar with her designs and brand. She gained publicity faster than most people who were in the industry for years.

But she didn’t stop here. She created the campaign ‘Reflect Your Style’, where she invited bloggers to create their own designs that reflected their moods. I’m not saying that we should start making clothes with influencer names, this is just another good example that can inspire.

guerilla marketing blogger campaign example
Blogger of the moment guerrilla Marketing Campaign

McDonald’s

One of the common places to create guerrilla marketing campaigns is zebra crossing.

The lines painted on the ground give you a lot to play with if you have the necessary creativity. McDonald’s used it in a way that the lines are French fries coming out of a hamburger pack.

guerrilla advertising - mc donalds zebra crossing
Very clever way of using zebra crossing.

Apart from being part of the actual zebra crossing, which still has the same function, the image represents one of the products.

Using a striking element helps the message to better suit the potential client. The more people see the ad, the better the campaign.

Kit Kat

KitKat used benches in the shape of chocolate bars and thus caught its customers’ attention by the unusual environment.

kit kat - guerilla marketing
One more excellent example of the guerrilla marketing.

The candy brand uses the famous design of its products, in the form of bars, including the famous red paper.

Ikea

Ikea went a step further and decorated public spaces with lamps, tables, and rugs, promoting the comfort of its products.

ikea - guerrilla marketing
Would you go to Ikea if you saw this marketing campaign?

This example shows one of the great opportunities of guerrilla marketing in the middle of the street and brings their products closer to the users. In this case, not only are the people surprised when they see customized space but are also exposed to certain brand products.

NIKE

NIKE is known for its attitude and slogan “Just do it”. So it’s no wonder they used the bench as a label for the company’s motto.

They even went a step further and placed an advertisement in the form of a yellow ramp in the subway, on the escalator.

nike guerrilla marketing - ramp - yellow tape
Would you take the escalator?

I think most of us will agree that it underlines the benefit perfectly, right?

We are sure that the one who came across these escalators was reminded of the brand’s motto and was “forced” to go up the stairs, exercising a bit.

Snapchat

It has not been easy to penetrate the digital world, which is dominated by social media giants like Facebook.

Snapchat had to make some noise, to open the door somehow.

So they created a giant billboard that had nothing but their logo. And since no one knew what this logo represented and what it was about, Snapchat’s competitors didn’t know what was coming, but that’s why this led to thousands of people googling the brand.

And so today Snapchat is one of the most popular social media platforms for younger audiences.

UNICEF

In the most advanced country in the world, people take it for granted that tap water is hygienic and suitable for consumption.

However, at least 50% of the world’s population does not have access to drinking water. To emphasize this fact, UNICEF has set up automatic vending machines around New York in eight flavors – cholera, malaria, typhus, dengue, yellow fever, salmonella, dysentery, and hepatitis.

Of course, it served a purpose, and UNICEF was overwhelmed with donations.

Coca-Cola

Coke wanted to do something spectacular. They set up a vending machine for Coca-Cola in the cafeteria of St Johns University in New York.

Five secret cameras recorded the reaction of the cheerful students when, in addition to Coca-Cola, they also received what they did not expect – from sunglasses to flowers and pizza.

The edited video was posted on YouTube and collected millions of hits in a few days, and the ad received many awards and praise.

GoldToe bull stunt

Definitely the funniest guerrilla marketing stunt I’ve seen

Overnight, the creators of the underwear brand GoldToe put a large pair of underwear on the statue of a bull on Wall Street.

Many people took pictures with it and there’s no doubt they posted them on their social media, giving GoldToe even more publicity.

More great guerrilla marketing examples

We wanted to add some more good examples of this type of marketing, with the thought of inspiring you when you are thinking about creating your own.

  • A bus paint job advertising the city Zoo in Copenhagen. Not only is it good art, but it is also a genius idea.
  • An ad for the movie 2012, which was about the end of the world. The water looked so realistic that the passersby’s attention was immediately captured. Very unique and memorable.
  • marketing strategy of the watch company IWC for their Big Pilot’s Watch. Not as big and flashy as the other ones, but still as effective. It gives you the option to try on the watch, shows you what it looks like, and gives you the name of it and the company.
  • The building for Coop’s Paints. Because it is on a building, the ad can be spotted from miles away and the yellow certainly helps it stand out even more.

Guerrilla marketing tactics you should use in 2021

With the right approach, retailers can launch brand visibility into the stratosphere. But in some way, with everything we’ve said so far, it’s not a trick. So, let’s look at the world of guerrilla marketing and the 4 stunts that still work wonders for brands in 2021. These are the tactics you should use this year.

Samsung campaign

The rivalry between Apple and Samsung has lasted for years, and it is generally known to everyone.

Back in 2011 in Sidney, Samsung set up a pop-up store at the adjoining entrance with the Apple store. While Apple fans were waiting to grab a new $700 iPhone, Samsung sold its Galaxy SII for $1.50. Samsung’s tactics paid off; many have walked away with a brand new – and MUCH cheaper -Galaxy SII.

Learning from this example, we suggest that in 2021 the main tactic is to use guerrilla marketing from an ambush, similar to this one from Samsung.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign

 ALS Ice Bucket is one of the most famous marketing campaigns ever. The clever fundraising campaign of the ALS Foundation challenged the audience to pour a bucket of ice water over their heads and post reactions on social networks, nominating a friend to do the same.

Celebrities such as Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, and others took part in the challenge for free. The tactic was so successful; the ALS Foundation raised a staggering $115 million in the process.

Check out the compilation of 38 celebs taking the Ice Bucket challenge.

And this is one of the examples of buzz marketing that you should use this year.

Johnnie Walker campaign

With the help of the Scottish whiskey brand Johnnie Walker, Harris Tweed Hebrides created a line of Harris Tweed fabrics in the shape of whiskey for sale.

Guerrilla marketing tricks enabled both brands to create subconscious and inherent brand recognition. This means when consumers take a sip of Johnnie Walker, they are reminded of Harris Tweed Hebrides and vice versa.

Research shows that brands are better at attracting more customers when they connect with their senses. Why not try it out this year.

Twitter campaign

Twitter aimed to take advantage of the team’s success by promoting women’s soccer in the U.S. when the women’s national soccer team won its fourth World Cup.

The #StartWithThem social media platform campaign has raised brand awareness and support for women’s sports.

Launching a three-day street marketing tour in New York, Twitter turned the branded food truck into an interactive experience with free food and prizes.

Guerrilla marketing tricks that use engaged ambassadors and offer free gifts are always a good rule of thumb when attracting potential customers.

Guerrilla marketing online

We’ve already mentioned that this kind of marketing doesn’t have to be used only in the streets and such. We also have the Internet, and through it, guerrilla marketing is much easier, but only if it’s done the right way.

guerrilla marketing online - laptop - typing - working
Guerrilla marketing has to be executed the right way online. | Source: Unsplash

For starters, we need to find a group of people who will be really interested in our product, which might be the hardest step.

For example, if we’re selling t-shirts and our target audience are ‘students that like funny t-shirts’, we can gift a shirt to a waiter who works in a café that students usually visit, give one to an influencer that students are following, or post in Facebook groups or student forums.

The next step is marketing a product. In the example with the waiter, that is what we pretty much did.

The options are numerous: we can go to a Facebook group and make a post where we’re asking about where we can find such a t-shirt and then ask a friend who is in the group to respond with a link to our shirt. People will be interested and look it up. But don’t do it multiple times in the same group, because people might realize what you’re doing.

There’s another, much simpler, option. You can simply go into a group, make a post telling people who you are and what you’re selling. In the beginning, this might not be immediately effective, but it is the more honorable approach.

Conclusion

As you can see in these examples, guerrilla marketing can be extremely effective. Images of these examples are all over the internet, which only confirms its effectiveness, with hundreds of people posting and sharing their images of these unique and clever marketing ideas.

Finally, guerrilla marketing can be a good option, but it should be done wisely.

Very often, these ways of advertising are punishable and contrary to the law, so it is very important to find a balance between attracting attention and good promotion!

We hope that this article has inspired you so you can come up with your own amazing and eye-catching guerrilla marketing idea.

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