Guerrillas are taking over. No, not the big, hairy mammals: guerrilla advertisers. Guerrilla marketing and advertising has taken off in the past few years, but what is it? No doubt you’d know it when you see it. Guerrilla advertising is a strategy that is low-cost, creative, and above all, unconventional!
The name comes from a war term meaning an irregular tactic used by individuals or small groups that often involved surprise attacks. The marketing industry has since taken the term to new heights by not attacking target audiences physically, but psychologically. Buying air time or ad space for your company is expensive, so guerrilla tactics are developed by small business looking to spare their bottom line. Key elements of guerrilla marketing are high-energy and imagination! It has to make an impact and leave an impression on the masses. And these days, people are as distractable as Labrador Retrievers with a tennis ball. The best way to win their attention?
Be the tennis ball.
Guerrilla marketing needs to shock or appeal to a person’s sensibilities, making it memorable and personal. They should feel like the target of the campaign. They should know that you are talking to them.
Drew Neisser, CEO of Renegade Marketing, says that guerrilla marketing needs to be “newsworthy” and that it’s a “state of mind” more than a statement in itself. Brett Zaccardi of “Street Attack” claims the best tactics are “unauthorized.”
But there are certain DO’s and DON’T's of guerrilla marketing to keep in mind. It’s alright to challenge your target audience, like what security company 3M did with a five foot high wall of impenetrable security glass. $500 in real money was installed between two panes of glass and installed on a city sidewalk. 3M challenged pedestrians to break the glass to win the money inside! They also took care to install a security guard by the display to not only incite challengers but to discourage people from using more than their hands and feet. With the combination of a cash prize and the legal permission to break something, people were drawn to the challenge and impressed by 3M’s proven product.
A good example of a bad campaign idea was Vodafone’s infamous “Streaker” episode. Vodafone hired two men to streak through an Australian rugby match wearing naught but the Vodafone logo painted on their backs.
While daring, a good guerrilla campaign shouldn’t get the target audience in trouble with the law and definitely shouldn’t seek to make anyone uncomfortable or angry. The streakers were slapped (not literally!) with a fine and rugby fans were very upset over the incident. The teams were also, reputedly, distracted enough to miss important plays. While Vodafone certainly won the free advertising, they loss respect.
Another major DON’T of guerrilla marketing is Don’t be Something You’re Not! Keep your target audience, your team and your mission in mind. If you’re a Fortune 500 company, don’t advertise yourself as a down-home-mom-and-pop shop. If you’re a grassroots organization, don’t alienate your target by making lofty and bourgeois demands of them.
Successful guerrilla campaigns use what they have at their disposal including stairs, escalators, the ground, and trees! Calgary Farmer’s Market hung ripe red apples from trees with stickers on the apples advertising the market’s dates, times, and locations. Cheap advertising for the market, and free apples for the target consumers!
In the bottom left corner of the picture below, Folgers used giant stickers and manhole covers to advertise their coffee, knowing full well that most people tend to look down while walking on the sidewalk.
HBO knows that shock value is attention-grabbing (have you seen the shows they air?) and they used this knowledge to their advantage with this campaign for hit series, “The Sopranos.”
Guerrilla ads make you look twice and whip out your camera phone. They stand out from the rest of the ad space that surrounds them. When consumers see something truly guerrilla, they share it! Who wouldn’t want that kind of loyalty?