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Guerrilla marketing

There’s no doubt that guerrilla marketing can provide fantastic results while allowing marketers to exercise their creativity uniquely. Still, it will only work for businesses that aren’t afraid of risk-taking.


Guerrilla marketing is an advertisement strategy concept designed for businesses to promote their products or services unconventionally with little budget to spend. This involves high energy and imagination, focusing on grasping the public's attention on a more personal and memorable level. Considering the rewards for a good campaign, it's no surprise that guerrilla marketing is becoming more popular. Lower costs and the opportunity to surprise and amaze people are reasons this method is becoming more widespread among agencies. When done right, it can land a brand (and agency) much attention, free publicity, and the chance to go viral if it's perfect. This article shares a few visual case study examples to sink your teeth into.

When the traditional strategies aren't delivering, you send in the guerrillas. They're three extra-special forces that implement killer strategies to turn the tide and defeat the enemy. Guerrilla marketing is an excellent alternative to traditional marketing. It thrives on original thinking and creativity, where imagination and ingenuity beat big budgets. In addition, guerrilla marketing tends to be cheaper than conventional marketing, relying on smaller, more localized brick-and-mortar strategies like:

Graffiti: Graffiti marketing uses city streets and alleyways as a giant canvas. While smaller, more covert operations will make their mark wherever they want, for most businesses, getting permission from a property owner before going Monet on the walls of their establishment is recommended.

Stencil Graffiti: Stencil graffiti uses stencils to create repeated street artworks. The advantage of stencils is that you can quickly create multiple instances of your creativity across many different spaces. In addition, stencils tend to be small in size (as opposed to a full-wall mural) and consist of simple designs.

Reverse Graffiti: Reverse graffiti is when marketers remove dirt and grime from a street or wall instead of adding to a surface to create an all-natural marking message. Just put a stencil on a sidewalk and then wash the open spaces!


Stickers: Creative use of labels is another great guerrilla marketing tactic that can be very successful when implemented well.

Undercover Marketing: Also known as "stealth marketing," marketers disguise themselves as peers amongst their target audience. One example is Sony's campaign in 2002, in which actors were hired to wander about cities, asking strangers to take a photo of them. During the interaction, actors rave about their new phones, boasting of their features and capabilities.

Flash Mobs: Flash mobs involve organizing a group of individuals to perform a specific action or task at a pre-determined location and time. In some cases, participants are hired actors; other times, they are simply members of the community who enjoy the randomness of flash mobs!

Publicity Stunts: Publicity stunts involve specific feats of awe and amazement, usually sponsored or in partnership with a brand. Red Bull is adept at this practice, exemplified by their 2012 skydiving record as part of their Stratos project. Red Bull sent Austrian extreme-sports athlete Felix Baumgartner above the stratosphere, dominating the world record for the highest skydive, launching himself from over 128,000 feet above the earth. Arguably much more than a mere stunt, the Red Bull Stratos project set numerous world records and was viewed live on YouTube by over 9.5 million users (setting yet another record).

Treasure Hunts: Creating custom, high-quality treasure hunts is another excellent guerrilla marketing tactic that can energize audiences. Guerrilla marketing treasure hunts often involve posting online clues to hidden items scattered across single or several cities. Winners are rewarded with digital codes, prizes, or a hint for the next level of the treasure hunt.

Urban Environment: The most successful guerrilla marketing strategies use the spaces around them. Urban environments allow for many opportunities to implement clever marketing strategies.

While today we're mostly showing real, visual examples of guerrilla marketing, there are plenty of online models. Online guerrilla marketing campaigns often appear in the form of:

  • Viral videos

  • User-generated content competitions

  • Creative landing pages

Guerrilla Marketing Pros and Cons – Guerrilla marketing has some advantages and disadvantages. Take both into consideration before choosing to move forward with a campaign.

Pros of Guerrilla Marketing:

  • Cheap to execute. Whether using a simple stencil or a giant sticker, guerrilla marketing tends to be much less expensive than classic advertising.

  • Allows for creative thinking. With guerrilla marketing, imagination is more important than budget.

  • Grows with word-of-mouth. Guerrilla marketing relies heavily on word-of-mouth marketing, considered by many one of the most potent weapons in a marketer's arsenal. There's nothing better than getting people to talk about your campaign on their own accord.

  • Publicity can snowball. Some especially noteworthy or unique guerrilla marketing campaigns will get picked up by local (and even national) news sources, resulting in a publicity powerhouse effect that marketers drool over.

Cons of Guerrilla Marketing:

  • Mysterious messages can be misunderstood. There's often an air of mystery to guerrilla marketing campaigns. While this sense of mystery can often propel a campaign's attention and notice, the lack of clarity can also skew audience interpretation. The confusion associated with guerrilla marketing campaigns can have extreme implications, such as in 2007, when flashing LED circuit boards promoting a new animated series, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, were quietly installed around Boston. Unfortunately, the objects were mistaken for explosives, causing citywide panic as bomb squads were brought in to examine and remove the unknown devices. The hired installers were even arrested for mounting "hoax devices" but were later released. While it'd be easy to label this campaign as a disaster, the story got picked up on major media networks across the country, so despite the ordeal, some would probably call it a success.

  • Authority intervention. Some forms of guerrilla marketing, such as non-permission street graffiti, can result in tension with authorities.

  • Unpredicted obstacles. Many guerrilla marketing tactics are susceptible to bad weather, thrown timing, and other small instances that could quickly threaten to undermine an entire campaign.

  • Potential backlash. Savvy audiences may call out businesses implementing guerrilla marketing campaigns they disapprove of. This is especially true of undercover marketing campaigns – if you're caught, prepare to face the wrath.

There's no doubt that guerrilla marketing can provide fantastic results while allowing marketers to exercise their creativity uniquely. Still, it will only work for businesses that aren't afraid of risk-taking.

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