Design Activism – Guerilla Marketing

Guerilla marketing is a communication strategy that thrives on the surprise effect, in which topics and ideas are staged in an attention-grabbing way. The main aim is to draw attention to one’s brand, product, company or a specific topic through unconventional measures. Often a rather small budget is available, with which the greatest possible advertising effect is nevertheless to be achieved.

Behind the term guerrilla marketing is the marketing professional Jay C. Levinson, who developed the basic concept back in the 1980s. Moreover, the term is derived from military language.  Guerrilla warfare is a form of warfare in which one tries to weaken the opponent through unconventional tactics.

The special thing about guerrilla marketing is that the actions normally can’t be repeated simply and unchanged; moreover, consumers are addressed directly and personally. The aim is that the surprise effect of the campaign creates enough buzz that it spreads by itself via word of mouth and social media. Since the surprise effect would be lost if an action were repeated exactly the same, one would also lose the interest of the public.

So how does guerrilla marketing work?

A guerrilla marketing campaign will mainly take place on places and objects where one does not expect advertising. There are the most diverse areas of application, such as escalators, furniture, cars, public benches or even street actions and stagings, such as flash mobs, can be part of it. The actions aim to shock or even scare consumers, break taboos or ridicule the competition. In summary, it aims to touch consumers emotionally through a personal experience.

In contrast to classic advertising, when using guerrilla marketing you do not struggle to stand out from thousands of other advertisements. However, this is exactly why such campaigns have to be planned precisely.

Risks of guerrilla marketing

One risk of guerrilla marketing that should not be underestimated is that the viral effect cannot be controlled. In the worst case, a campaign that goes viral can also develop in a negative direction, anger the target group, lead to a shitstorm, loss of image and sales. Therefore, it is also advisable to play through all possible scenarios and the necessary reactions in case of emergency when planning such campaigns. 
Moreover, guerrilla marketing often moves in legal grey areas. 

Success factors of guerrilla marketing

It is important for a successful guerrilla marketing campaign that it fits the brand and its target group. In order for consumers to engage with the campaign, direct and immediate points of contact should be created during the campaign. With a cross-media approach, the chances of a successful campaign are even higher, for example by involving the target group and encouraging them to post content on the internet.  

Four types of guerrilla marketing

Ambient marketing refers to surprising product stagings that reach consumers in their normal environment. This is the unusual implementation of outdoor advertising in public spaces. Ambient marketing can mean, for example, innovative advertising at the airport, on buses and trains or in restaurants. Possible advertising media are, for example, beer mats, postcards or toilet seats in pubs.

Ambush marketing is also called free-rider marketing. In this case, the attention for a topic or an event is used to put one’s own brand in the limelight. Ambush marketing is also frequently used at major events to carry out an image transfer to one’s own brand.
This form of marketing is, however, controversial, as with this form of advertising an association with an event is, so to speak, tricked.

Sensation marketing involves unusual actions or spectacular installations, for example at the point of sale. Multipliers, such as promoters, are used for this. Examples of sensation marketing are surprising fashion shows or flash mobs in the pedestrian zone.

Viral marketing is about achieving as much attention as possible in the respective target group as quickly as possible. Viral marketing aims to spread content virally, for example by consumers recommending or sharing it personally via word of mouth or online via social media.

Beispiele klassischen Guerilla Marketings

Once consumers are done with their ice cream, the message printed on the tip of the stick shaped like a toothbrush reveals “Don’t Forget” with the Colgate logo. This simple message effectively reminded consumers to brush their teeth.
To draw attention to human trafficking, Amnesty International also decided to use sensation marketing. Suddenly, transparent suitcases containing real people appeared on the luggage tapes. A shocking advertisement that is sure to stick in the mind and be retold.
Nike Guerilla Marketing to talk about, but also to get angry about

Guerrilla Campaign Packages Garbage as Seafood

The Advertising Agency Saatchi & Saatchi created a Guerrilla Campaign for Surfrider Foundation to put beach pollution into perspective. Therefore, trash was collected from various beaches, packaged, so that it looked like seafood and displayed at local farmers’ markets. With this campaign they wanted to raise awareness for the need to keep our oceans clean.