Highs and Lows of Guerrilla Marketing

McDonalds zebra crossingSource: pinsdaddy.com

Advertising is expensive. Extremely expensive. In fact, when talking about the budget of a major Hollywood film, marketing and advertising often costs the same as the production itself. But the importance of marketing cannot be overlooked. The most revolutionary product in the world can be created, but will flop if a good marketing campaign does not make the public aware of its existence.

But what if you can’t afford much in the way of advertising? Or what if you simply want to approach the process from a different angle? In this case, you may want to think about so-called guerrilla marketing. It costs a fraction of traditional methods, and can often have a great deal more impact. On the other hand, if done badly it can be a total disaster, sometimes even damaging the image of the product it intends on publicising.

What Is Guerrilla Marketing?

Say, for example, a casino wanted to get word out about its amazing Roulette games. A few adverts could be posted on popular websites, in the form of banners, pop-ups or other typical means. This would get the job done, but obviously be limited by the method.

Alternatively, something completely different could be attempted. Like a sudden wave of new graffiti popping up across a city, making the public aware of the site and its games. Or a bizarre public stunt like a game being played on the centre island of a busy road. These guerrilla advertising methods bank on drawing attention for being unusual, and word being spread by the public. Such a unique approach can have much further reaching results, and even go massively viral. That is, assuming it is done well.

Campaigns That Worked

There are several campaigns that really hit the mark, and these are just some examples:

On international car free day on the 22nd September, Nike went about putting cardboard shoes on car wheels in an effort to promote walking- and their brand of course.

McDonalds converted a zebra crossing into a giant fries box, completed with yellow ‘fries’ making up the stripes.

A zoo in Copenhagen wrapped a bus in a giant snake- or a decal of one, adverting their location as the ‘wildest place in town’.

Loctite, makers of superglue, glued a coin to a boardwalk. Upon passer-by’s attempting to pick the coin up, they’d see a small advert for the glue used.

Lee put a pair of jeans of every parking meter along a busy street in France. When cars parked beside one of the covered meters, expecting to have to pay, a representative gave them money instead.

These campaigns were all quite simple and worked well. They were the epitome of good guerrilla marketing – smart, effective, unusual and eye catching all in one.

Snake bus advertising a zooSource: gorillaagency.com

Campaign Failures

Then of course, there are the campaigns that fell flat:

Cartoon Network attempted to promote a new show by planting blinking lights on city street corners. In an embarrassing backfire one resident mistook the device for a bomb and called the police. Cartoon Network was fined.

Snapple once attempted to erect the world’s largest frozen Popsicle. Standing 25 feet tall, the enormous Popsicle soon began to melt, causing chaos in city streets.

In 2006 attempts to advertise Mission Impossible 3 met a similar fate as Cartoon Network. Small devices were placed in newspaper boxes, programmed to play the Mission Impossible theme upon being opened. Once again, the bomb squad was called in…

Do It Right

So clearly, although guerrilla marketing can be effective, doing it right is a big part of achieving success. Campaigns can simply be ignored and fly completely under the radar. Or at worst, go horribly wrong and have potential customers running for the hills. On the other hand, a campaign done right can become legendary, go viral and reach millions of eyes, all on a shoestring budget.

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