Guerrilla marketing is a form of product promotion that relies on unconventional, and surprising, methods to create marketing campaigns that are impactful and memorable.
In a world that’s saturated with marketing messages, cutting through the noise can be a tall order for any business. Guerrilla marketing is one way a business can disrupt the status quo by doing things a little bit differently.
What’s more, guerrilla marketing campaigns are usually cheaper than traditional alternatives, though do require a more grassroots approach.
Whilst financially rewarding, the risk of guerrilla marketing tactics is that they aren’t always appreciated by the public or local authorities — in one case, Smirnoff was fined thousands after the UK government considered its pop-up, spray-painted marketing message to be “vandalism”.
Simply put: it’s really important to get your campaign right before launching.
Although the term ‘guerrilla marketing’ was originally coined in 1984 by author Jay Conrad Levinson, it’s actually rooted in the history of military warfare.
So-called ‘guerrilla warfare’ refers to the tactics employed by smaller, less well-financed military forces — such as those in Cuba during the 1950s and 60s — who were resourceful by necessity.
These troops had to get creative and think outside the box for maximum impact, hence the parallel to businesses with a low marketing budget.
Creative, boundary-pushing and unexpected all at once — here are a few examples of great guerrilla marketing in action:
In Romania, Vodafone hired a team of professional pickpockets to “reverse-pickpocket” flyers into the pockets of passers-by, cleverly raising awareness of the issue in turn.
Singapore-based company Circles.Life created a vending machine that dispensed $50 bills for the cost of just $3. By adding a hashtag and QR code, the stunt quickly went viral.
US fast-food company Wendy’s is famous for its entertaining use of social media. Our favorite example came in 2017 when the brand engaged in a Twitter-based rap battle with another restaurant, Wingstop. Both companies went viral as a result, and not a single dollar was spent!
Another top example of guerilla marketing was used to promote the movie Hereditary in 2018. The production company saw fit to place strange dolls outside the hotel rooms of those who attended a midnight screening, which tied into the film and its unsettling aesthetic. It was a small move, but one that helped reinforce the movie’s presence in fans’ minds and created extra publicity as people shared the incident across social media.