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Guerilla Marketing: Techniques and Ideas

Like other Businesses out there,  we love the thought of Guerilla Marketing!

Insight, innovation, creativity, shock, awe and humour are all things associated with a good Guerilla Campaign,  but where do you start?   The web is rife with Big company examples,  with memorable campaigns often being by big budget organisations aiming to make their brand more “fun”.  What we will dissect,  is the ingredients that make up a popular guerilla marketing campaign,  so that we can deliver a theory for all businesses BIG and small!

Firstly lets clear one thing,  viral marketing is not the same thing as Guerilla Marketing!  Viral marketing is linked with Guerilla marketing and certainly post campaign,  the focus shifts to marketing your stunt so that it may go viral.  Initially however Guerilla marketing is the focus on the unique and or shocking marketing campaign in itself!

Now that we’ve cleared that up,  lets consider some well thought out guerilla marketing campaigns over the last few years and consider 3 things for each; The Concept,  What makes it effective and the Guerilla Ingredients to make it work.

Starting with a recent favourite of mine:


Trojan Mailing


How DHL tricked their rivals into advertising for them!

The Concept:  DHL created special large boxes bearing the slogans “DHL is Faster”.  These boxes,  when subject to temperatures below freezing,  turn completely black;  covering the slogan and turning into unassuming black boxes.  Once subject to normal temperature,  the black coating fades and the slogan is again visible.  Clever huh?!  The perfect humiliation tool from one delivery company to another,  or 3,  it seems as they hired drivers from rival companies;  TNT, UPS and DPD to deliver these “parcels” after turning them black.  The drivers, unaware,  load the boxes into their van and by the time they reach their delivery destination the black coating has faded and the slogan is fully visible on a bright yellow box!  All making for some funny scenes of very awkward looking drivers delivering their “unique” message on a box!

Why it works:  This is works well because it plays on the BIG and unthinkable nature of big money,  multinational organisations doing the unthinkable,  and marketing for their direct rivals.   It provides a humorous proposition and is very shareable in nature.   The actual stunt may have only been witnessed by a few hundred passers by,  but the intentional video capture provides the viral sharing potential,  once posted on Youtube and marketed on Social Media.

The Ingredients: Embarrassment of Rivals in amusing scenario,  Clever and Unconventional Item used,  Shareable Humorous Video


Your Daily Dose of Drama


Adding a daily dose of Drama!

The Concept: Drama channel TNT set up a button in the middle of a Belgian city square with “push to add drama” written on an arrow suspended above the button.  The video shows scenes of intrigued looking people considering the implications of such a button press, before someone takes the plunge and presses the big red button.  What follows is a series of bizarre events that you would certainly associate with drama!  A “police shootout”,  an American football team carrying a man on a stretcher,  a woman riding a motorbike half naked and finishing off with a big banner advertising the TNT channel for “your daily dose of drama”.  The video really must be seen to be believed.

Why it works: It does exactly as the button suggests and adds drama,  Hollywood drama,  in public to a quiet unsuspecting square.  It provides shock,  awe and amazement and will have people wondering what on earth they are witnessing,  right till the marketing message is revealed!  It provides the drama associated with its programs directly to the crowd and finishes by advertising this fact!  Something that will live long in the memory of all those that witnessed it,  with the video being a hugely shareable piece of viral content!  In fact this stunt was so successful,  it inspired them to make a sequel!

The Ingredients:  Direct to potential client marketing,  A unique and big impact visual representation of their Product/Service,  Shareable Humorous Video


The Unofficial Sponsor

The 2002 Winter Games “Unofficial” sponsor

No Video for this one, but it is known due to the massive controversy it caused in the courts,  adding to its popularity.

Guerilla Marketing Wastatch Beers

The beer that reigned on the $50 million parade!


The Concept: This one is often classed as ambush marketing,  but it is nonetheless Guerilla.  Classed as ambush marketing as it involves ambushing a competitors marketing efforts with your own marketing message and enjoying success on the back of their campaign.  This one left rivals especially bitter.  When beer company Anheuser-Busch paid $50 million in a sponsorship deal to use the words ‘Olympic’ and the 5 ring symbols in their advertising,  they probably thought it a wise investment.  That was until a small competitor in the form of microbrewery Schirf Brewery decided to brand their trucks with “Wasutch Beers.  The Unofficial Beer.  2002 Winter Games.”.  In an instant they managed to associate themselves with the games with a clever play on words,  while not breaking any laws,  much to the discontent of Anheuser-Busch!  Since Schrif Brewery hadn’t used the words Olympic or Official in their branding,  they hadn’t legally broken any rules and thus Anheuser was unsuccessful in their efforts to sue or prevent this happening.

Why it works:  This small brewery managed to associate itself with the games by using clever wording and not an extra paying a penny in sponsorship fees.  Its infamy only increased its reach and popularity as word spread and as it was never going to be popular,  as far as Anheuser was concerned,  their futile efforts to prevent the stunt only drew more attention to it.  You could say its popularity and infamy led to it going “viral” before the days of “virality” and was seen by many as a truly clever marketing stunt that gained more from a its low budget ambush marketing stunt than the Big organisation that spent $50 million!

The Ingredients: Competitor Embarrassment,  Clever Play on Words branding,  High jacking of competitor sponsorship,  Increased Exposure due to infamous nature 


Marketing In The Cloud


KLM wanted to show just how comfortable their Economy Comfort service was, so they produced this clever piece of marketing:

The Concept:  Great and simple, this looks like it was at a reasonable cost too.  KLM erected a stand on which a gentleman appears to be sitting and lying on thin air,  reading a newspaper,  as passers by look on in amazement.  The text on the stand underneath has clear branding indicating it as a KLM service;  a very bold and clear marketing message!  The gentleman simply continues reading his newspaper as passers by interact, take pictures and wave their hands under the comfortable looking “floating” man in disbelief.

Why it works: KLM thought about what marketing message they wanted to portray in their new service;  one of comfort.  They chose to associate their new comfort economy service with the comfort of lying on a cloud,  and what better way to portray this publicly by having a man floating on thin air,  looking very comfortable indeed!  The choosing of an airport to display this is also perfect as passers are all potential clients that are being marketed to with the visual shock factor of a floating man.

The Ingredients: Marketing Message Symbolism, Shareable Clever Video Filming Peoples Bemused Reactions, A unique and big impact visualisation of their Product/Service.


Paddy’s Power!


Another “Highjack” Guerilla Marketing Campaign:

Similar to Schirf Brewery,  Paddy Power decided they wanted to be another Unofficial sponsor,  this time  of the 2010 Ryder Cup!

The Concept:  Paddy Power decided to make their presence felt at the 2010 Ryder Cup,  by erecting an absurdly big Paddy Power sign in the distance on a hill near the golf  course.  Being so big it was instantly visible to all spectators of the tournament.  Much to the anger of nearby land owners and official sponsors,  they gathered a team and assembled the sign,  leaving the “Power” half cut off,  most likely to avoid legal issues,  which didn’t help much as they ended up in court anyway!

Why it works: If you put up a massive 270ft sign in the “background” of a sport that involves the great outdoors and during one of the most popular tournaments in golf,  you’re going to get noticed!  A humorous and cheeky stunt that is instantly shareable by people who identify with the humour!  Furthermore it has perfect targeting potential too,  with golf being a big betting market for Paddy Power,  they marketed directly to spectators and clients in a big way!  The video,  albeit a short one,  describes how they were also labeled “Scum” and taken to court,  further adding to the infamy of the stunt,  and as they say any publicity is good publicity!

The Ingredients:  A unique and big impact visualisation of their Brand,  Oversized Eye Catching visual appeal,  Short but effective video,  Infamy and controversy being further marketed to increase infamy




 Dissecting The Formula

So we’ve been through 5 great guerilla marketing campaigns,  from overly complex in arrangement (TNT Drama Button),  to very simple and concise (KLM Cloud Floating);  what have we learned?  How do you “do” Guerilla?

Let’s start by analysing what ingredients make an effective Guerilla campaign:

From the 5 examples above and the countless others on the internet,  one thing is clear;  Guerilla marketing is unusual.  Guerilla involves bold stunts,  unique visuals and using things that make people look twice,  through shock, amazement and humour.  Point 1 is big visual impact is key!

Secondly, pick a unique and clear marketing message for your campaign that relates directly to the product or service you are offering.  This is where the true potential and success of your idea is formed from,  this is deciding what message you want to convey and then brainstorming how to show it publicly in a visual way.  Think visual metaphors, big eye catching graphics and using the surrounding area/items to create the spectacle!  Here are a some examples:

Guerilla Marketing Manhole Cover

Manhole Guerilla Uses


Guerilla Marketing Charity

Turning a carrier bag into a holding a autistic child’s hand


Clever Guerilla Marketing Idea

Train/Bus handles being used as a watch demo

Whether you’re turning a manhole into a coffee cup or train handles into items that you would hold or wear,  Guerilla makes people live the marketing message!

Thirdly,  we notice a lot of Guerilla marketing campaigns,  focus around their competitors!  Now this practice may be of questionable business ethics,  but that’s a discussion for another day!  Brands that are able to publicly embarrass or call into question their rivals credibility,  in comparison to their own,  tend to stir up a lot of controversy.  Controversy can be good,  but if you choose to go this path,  do your research and tread very carefully!

Lastly,  Promote!  If you’ve just pulled off the marketing event of the century,  make sure you have a flippin good video of it!  This is where your marketing efforts will really pay off!  While word of mouth and social media “buzz” may get your stunt some exposure,  people will want to see what all the fuss was about for themselves,  so make sure you video it for YouTube sharing goodness! If you’ve not created a massive stunt worth filming then at least take a photo of the concept,  similar to above,  and promote it through the usual social media and blog techniques!  Remember you want to create buzz around the idea for it to truly be successful,  with the potential to go viral!  Don’t be afraid to reach out to social media influencers (people with a big influential following) and if need be,  offer a small incentive to help you promote the stunt!

There we have it,  some crucial ingredients to a Guerilla marketing recipe!  We’ve taken several guerilla marketing cakes,  tasted them,  and picked out some key ingredients!  However this is just touching the surface,  there are countless other ideas and methods waiting to be explored by any organisation willing to give it some thought.  The real core ingredient of this recipe is creativity!


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