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  • Writer's pictureKanhaiya Maheshwary

What is Guerrilla Marketing? A look at 5 Guerrilla Marketing tactics

You must be wondering, "Guerrilla" and "Marketing" together? After all, the word guerrilla is typically used to describe a blitz, unorthodox attack by a small army against a much bigger and organized force, whereas the term marketing evokes finer things such as storytelling, emotions, and consumer psychology. But these two terms come together rather beautifully to describe a very inventive and creative type of marketing where brands aim to create a BIG impact within a relatively small budget. Such campaigns are highly unconventional, and catch the audiences unexpected - and that's how they manage to achieve a large scale impact.

There are some key differentiators which set apart guerrilla marketing campaigns from other marketing campaigns. Guerrilla Marketing will typically have -

  1. Low Budgets: Just like guerrilla warfare, the key is cause big impact with minimal resources.

  2. Element of Surprise: A campaign cannot be called a guerrilla campaign unless it is highly original and has an element of surprise which catches audiences off-guard. If your audience expects it, your campaign is just another usual campaign.

  3. Location Specific: These campaigns are usually location specific. You will find them in a park, inside the elevator, at a shopping mall's gallery etc. They are not meant for scale or replicability. The entire point is creating a huge impact from a small campaign.

Types of Guerrilla Campaigns

It is important to note that there may be an overlap between the characteristics of various Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns, but they can still broadly be defined as -

Ambient Marketing

Ambient Marketing or advertising involves the use of an everyday, common space and placing something in it to lend more context to your product / service / idea. When seen together, the place and your idea actually look contextual and make sense. While it might be hard to grasp this concept theoretically, let us have a look at a few examples of ambient marketing done well:

BIC razor displaying the effectiveness of its blades

Tired park goers will take a 'break' by sitting on this KitKt bench

Ambush Marketing

I had covered Ambush Marketing extensively in one of my blogs earlier. Ambush typically involves hijacking an event that your competitor is a part of, or piggybacking on your competitors campaign to both mock them and generate a buzz for yourself. One of my favorite examples is this one involving Pepsi and Coke -

Coke had put up a sign to indicate the location of one of its administrative offices. Pepsi took it as an opportunity to make fun. After all, everything is fair in love and war!

Another great example of Ambush marketing is from the airlines industry. These billboards came up near the Mumbai airport a few years ago:

Viral Marketing

It is impossible to predict the viral-ness of the campaign. But the idea behind this type of Guerrilla Marketing is to do something so inventive and novel that it will invariably lead to a huge buzz through word-of-mouth and different forms of social media. For example, look at this attempt to stop cigarette litter in Embankment, UK -

This campaign was so effective that not only did it reduce cigarette litter by 46% in 12 week but also got this anti-litter initiative hundreds of thousands of impressions and an equivalent dollar amount in earned media.

Another wonderful example is that of the Dollar Shave Club advert. It has all the makings of a Guerrilla campaign:

  1. Low Budget: The entire ad was put together on a budget of just around $5,000.

  2. Challenging big brands: Until the day the ad arrived, Dollar Shave Club was a non-existent company challenging the likes of billion dollar entities Unilever and P&G.

  3. BIG impact: The ad, which has now been seen over 27 million times actually led to Dollar Shave Club's website crashing and them receiving 12,000 orders on the day of the launch itself. Quite a commendable feat for a 1 day old company!

Stealth Marketing

As the word suggests, it is a type of marketing where the audiences don't even realize they are being marketed to, until the very last moment. And by the time the audiences realize, they are already in awe and admiration of the wit showcased by the advertiser. The best example that comes to my mind is a print ad for a local Sherwani (type of traditional Indian-Pakistani dress worn during weddings) shop from Kolkata -

By the time I was done reading this ad for the 1st time, I remember having laughed a lot!

Guerrilla Projections

Guerrilla Projections involves using a projector to flash something onto a building or a surface that is noticeable to the general public. Depending upon the rules of the city, it may or may not be illegal. Warner Brothers had done it effectively in NYC as a part of their trans-media campaign before the release of The Dark Knight.

Guerrilla marketing campaigns are hard to conceptualize and even tougher to execute. If the execution falls short, the entire campaign can go for a toss. Besides, due to the quirky nature of these campaigns, at times they might be misunderstood thereby leading to controversies or even backlash. That is why you need to know your target audience very well in order to predict their reaction to your campaign.

Have any favorite Guerrilla campaigns to share? Drop it in the comment box below.


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