In recent years we often hear about companies engaged in guerrilla marketing campaigns to advertise their products. It’s a particular marketing strategy that aims to hit the imagination of consumers, provoking reactions of amazement and surprise, through the use of unusual promotional techniques. In this guide, I will discuss what guerrilla marketing is and how it’s used in the advertising market.

History, characteristics, and techniques of guerrilla marketing

In 1984, the merchant Jay Conrad Levinson introduced the formal term in his book called: “Guerrilla Marketing”.

Levinson was senior vice president of J. Walter Thompson and creative director and board member at Leo Burnett Advertising.

In Levinson’s book, we see unique ways to approach and combat traditional forms of advertising.

The objective of this new form of marketing – guerrilla marketing – was to use some “out of the box” tactics to advertise on a low budget.

During this time, TV, radio and the press were growing organically, but consumers were exhausted from all this, so Levinson suggests that the campaigns have to be shocking, unique, scandalous and intelligent.

Therefore, small businesses began to change their ways of common thinking and approached marketing in a totally new way.

Here is a summary of the main features of guerrilla marketing, according to its founder:

Low cost – it’s an advertising tool that requires the use of limited financial resources and for this reason, it can also be used by small businesses;

Time and imagination – to get its effectiveness, guerrilla marketing doesn’t aim at economic investment but on the use of time, energy and imagination;

Relationships – the guerrilla marketing judgment to determine the success of the business is not based on the sales itself but on its ability to generate new relationships and links with the public;

Specific focus – unlike other marketing strategies, it aims to advertise specific products, doesn’t diversify the offer by proposing additional services;

Consolidation of customers – even in this case guerrilla marketing differs from other forms of promotion because it focuses on existing customers, rather than on the acquisition of new consumers;

Cooperation – competition is rejected to give space for cooperation between different types of business;

Combination of existing technologies – it’s a strategy that combines different methodologies, exploiting existing technologies in an unconventional way, with the aim of enhancing their product.

Techniques used in guerrilla marketing

Environmental marketing – place the ads in places where you would not normally find them and make use of the elements of the environment.

Ambush marketing – this technique allows a company to benefit from another, usually from an important event, to advertise without paying sponsorship costs. Examples:

– during the celebration of the World Cup in South Africa, which had Adidas as its official sponsor, Nike managed to place a giant interactive installation in the Life Center, one of the most emblematic buildings in Johannesburg.

– in October 2011, and with the intention of stealing all the fame of the Apple iPhone 4S, Samsung set up a portable store a few meters from the Apple Store in Sydney and began selling units of the Samsung Galaxy II for only $ 2, when the true market price of this device was nothing less than 850 dollars.

– during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, the American sprinter Michael Johnson excelled by breaking two world records by winning the 200m and 400m races.

The strategy stood in the fact that he wore the flashy Nike sneakers, and the official sponsor of the sporting event was Reebok.

To further increase the visibility of the Nike and lower that of competitors, Johnson was the cover of Times magazine with his sneakers hanging from his neck along with his two gold medals.

Undercover marketing – it’s usually presented as an unusually attractive news or page, without clear reference to sharing it. This system makes the user think that the discovery is casual and spontaneous, which generates an additional motivation to share it and discover it with the rest of his friends. It’s the most complicated to distinguish, due to its own conception.

Wild postings – it consists of the placement of numerous posters, stickers, and other printed materials in the same area to attract attention.

Experiential marketing – interactive campaign that consists of connecting the public with the brand through a shared experience. Therefore, what is the objective of experiential marketing? It’s not simply a matter of exposing the client to a brand, but of allowing them to experiment with it.

It’s scientifically proven that the relationships that are established with users with this type of strategy are stronger than those that a brand can achieve through direct and invasive advertising.

The secret of experiential marketing is undoubtedly in emotions. A customer will choose a product or service because of the emotional experience that this product transmits to you moments before your purchase and when you have already purchased it.

Alternative marketing – promotion of events that seem to have nothing to do with the brand. It’s when an event outside the brand becomes news relating to the brand, so it must be ready to take the opportunity to promote.

Flash mobs – this strategy consists of gathering a large group of people in a specific place to carry out a concrete action. The action is usually brief and after its completion, the people disperse. The participants meet via internet or mobile phone.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla Marketing Advantages

– authenticity as it moves away from conventional advertising

– the actions usually achieve a high impact and notoriety in a short time

– creating an image of innovation and creativity for the company

– a different way of communicating with your target, generating great feedback especially in social networks.

– help to position the brand in front of its competition with little cost for the company

– positive effect on your audience

Guerrilla Marketing Disadvantages

– not only do you need creativity, you also need a broad sense of reality to adapt these great ideas to a popular environment.

– guerrilla marketing can be very impressive for the sector to which it’s addressed, but may not be so attractive to others.

More Guerrilla Marketing examples

In Belgium, at the beginning of 2012, the television channel TNT implemented an ambient marketing strategy that caused a sensation. In it, the unsuspecting pedestrians had the power to carry out an action that would unleash a spectacle in broad daylight in the middle of the pedestrian zone. With just pressing a sinister red button, these would unleash a series of events whose drama and action would be difficult to overcome. The result: the crowd is stunned as the scene passes quickly before their eyes. The video of this action has had more than 54 million views on YouTube.

Coca-Cola carried out the guerrilla marketing campaign “Papertweetos” on Twitter. In 2011, during the Copa América, the company invited Argentine fans to congratulate their national team on a tweet. This action brought together more than two million tweets.

UNICEF managed to scandalize and educate the public of Manhattan by installing a vending machine that dispenses water of 8 flavors: each flavor represented one of the common diseases that affect the poorest countries of the world (malaria, cholera, typhoid fever, dengue, hepatitis, dysentery, salmonellosis and yellow fever).

Below you can find 100+ guerrilla marketing examples from where you can inspire for your next “out of the box” marketing campaign.

100+ Guerrilla Marketing Examples to Inspire Your Brand

1. Coop’s Paint

Coop's Paint

2. Death Proof movie DVD

Death Proof movie DVD

3. Ikea subway ad

Ikea subway ad

4. Tyskie Beer Advertisement

Tyskie Beer Advertisement

5. Dr. Scholl’s Guerrilla Marketing

Dr. Scholl's Guerrilla Marketing

6. Save BHS

Save BHS

7. Bristol Zoo’s

Bristol Zoo’s

8. IT movie ad

IT movie ad

9. Lipton Clear Green Tea

Lipton Clear Green Tea

10.Folgers coffee

Folgers coffee

11. Prison Break

Prison Break

12. Kleenex

Kleenex

13. 2012 Movie Ad

2012 Movie Ad

14. Formula toothpaste

Formula toothpaste

15. The Sopranos

The Sopranos

16. Mini Cooper

Mini Cooper

17. Nikon Guerilla Marketing Campaign

Nikon Guerilla Marketing Campaign

18. Stop Global Warming

Stop Global Warming

19. Discovery Channel’s Shark Week

Discovery Channel's Shark Week

20. Cover Girl Lash Blast Mascara

Cover Girl Lash Blast Mascara

21. Colgate

Colgate

22. Alan Wake “Dark is Deadly”

Alan Wake "Dark is Deadly"

23. Superman Elevator Ad

Superman Elevator Ad

24. Becel

Becel

25. Dulcolax

Dulcolax

26. Sprite

Sprite

27. Greenpeace

Greenpeace

28. IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch

IWC's Big Pilot's Watch

29. Burn 60 weight-loss products

Burn 60 weight-loss products

30. Denver water

Denver water

31. Canada skiing ad

Canada skiing ad

32. FedEx: Kinko

FedEx: Kinko

33. Air Canada

Air Canada

34. Caribou Coffee

Caribou Coffee

35. McDonald’s: Shamrock Shake

McDonald's: Shamrock Shake

36. Durex

Durex

37. Port Aventura Park

Port Aventura Park

38. Street Marketing for SNCF

Street Marketing for SNCF

39. M&M

M&M

40. Alice in Wonderland movie

Alice in Wonderland movie

41. Nespresso billboard

Nespresso billboard

42. Midea fan

Midea fan

43. Ingenious plastic surgeon advertisement

Ingenious plastic surgeon advertisement

44. LG giant refrigerator

LG giant refrigerator

45. Vampire Diaries TV show

Vampire Diaries TV show

46. Meister Camera

Meister Camera

47. Amnesty International

Amnesty International

48. American Airlines

American Airlines

49. Yuzo sushi

Yuzo sushi

50. Duracell

Duracell

51. Lipton peach ice tea

Lipton peach ice tea

52. Dusseldorf Airport

Dusseldorf Airport

53. Amnesty International

Amnesty International

54. WWF save paper campaign

WWF save paper campaign

55. Golf GTI

Golf GTI

56. Lynx schedule

Lynx schedule

57. Anti-war poster

Anti-war poster

58. The Economist

The Economist

59. Glide

Glide

60. Knorr

Knorr

61. ACAT campaign against torture

ACAT campaign against torture

62. IKEA “human coupons”

IKEA “human coupons”

63. Anti-smoking ad

Anti-smoking ad

64. Tylenol

Tylenol

65. Australian childhood foundation

Australian childhood foundation

66. DHL billboard

DHL billboard

67. Stop global warming ad

Stop global warming ad

68. Kit Kat ad campaign

Kit Kat ad campaign

69. BMW airport ad

BMW airport ad

70. PETA “Time to go vegan”

PETA “Time to go vegan”

71. Canon

Canon

72. Vogue magazine photo boot

Vogue magazine photo boot

73. Adidas pop up store

Adidas pop up store

74. Tibits vegetarian restaurant

Tibits vegetarian restaurant

75. Wisconsin Department  of Tourism

Wisconsin Department  of Tourism

76. Airport ad

Airport ad

77. Fisch Franke

Fisch Franke

78. Bergmann & Sohn funeral services

Bergmann & Sohn funeral services

79. Toysdirect.com

Toysdirect.com

80. Rimmel nail polish

Rimmel nail polish

81. Education for street children

Education for street children

82. KitKat bench

KitKat bench

83. LAY’S

LAY'S

84. Grown Farmers Market Gorge

Grown Farmers Market Gorge

85. MTV global warming awareness

MTV global warming awareness

86. Mr. Clean

Mr. Clean

87. Science World

Science World

88. Kagatani Knife

Kagatani Knife

89. Divorce lawyer

Divorce lawyer

90. Pepperidge Farm Soft Bread

Pepperidge Farm Soft Bread

91. Volkswagen

Volkswagen Ad

92. Canadian Red Cross campaign

Canadian Red Cross campaign

93. Pantene

Pantene Ad

94. Spiderman 2 movie

Spiderman 2 movie ad

95. National Geographic

National Geographic Ad

96. 3M security glass

3M security glass ad

97. Pringles truck

Pringles truck ad

98. Child labor awareness campaign

Child labor awareness campaign ad

99. Audi

Audi Ad

100. Go back to Pompeii lava flow at Wellington Airport

Go back to Pompeii lava flow at Wellington Airport

101. McDonald’s free coffee

McDonald’s free coffee ad

102. Jupiler beer

Jupiler beer ad

103. Scotch whiskey

Scotch whiskey ad