Guerrilla Marketing Case Study
Guerrilla marketing is a type of advertising whereby you use methods and strategies that are unusual, unconventional and ultimately unexpected. The term was originally coined by author and marketer Jay Conrad Levinson by his book of the same name, and it is closely linked to the term guerrilla warfare which means to utilise opportunistic and atypical tactics in unforgiving and trying conditions.
The goal of guerilla marketing is to create hype and awareness of your brand by using unique and original advertising techniques. Guerilla marketing is so popular because you can generally create a whole marketing campaign on a very small budget and as long as the concept is good, it will deliver huge profitability and success to your cause.
Through out this case study we will be exploring the history of guerilla marketing, paying close attention to the most notable examples both in terms of success and failure, analysing each example looking at what made them work so well or what made them a huge flop. We’ll also look at the future of guerrilla marketing and what the advertising world has in store for us.
Notable Examples of Guerrilla Marketing
We’ve searched far and wide to find the very best examples of guerrilla marketing, both in terms of their concept and also their success in spreading awareness and getting attention for their bussiness or cause.
Volkswagen – The Fast Lane
There is nothing worse than commuting, especially when all you seem to be doing is waiting so Volkswagen found a way to make a few traveller’s trips a little more exciting by giving them the option of going down a fun red slide instead of slowly ascending via an escalator.
Most people want to appear outgoing and adventurous so when you give people the opportunity to do something out of the oridinary in a public setting then you will always have a lot of participants, both active people who join in and passive watchers on or spectators.
The 3M Security Glass Challenge
3M were so confident in the strength of their security glass that they were willing to place three million dollars in between two panes of glass at a normal, every day bus stop. People were allowed to use their feet to try and break the glass, no-one even managed a scratch let alone actually breaking or cracking the glass.
This example of guerrilla marketing works so well because it is an extremely public display of confidence both in terms of presenting an open challenge and putting three million dollars on the line.
The National Geographic Museum
This advert perfectly displays the commitment and bravery that wildlife photographers need to get just the opportunity to take a picture of dangerous wild animals. This works well because it encourages active user engagement whereby the viewer literally stands in the photographers footsteps.
Dirty Water for Sale in New York
Most examples of guerrilla marketing are utulised by for profit businesses and it is rare for charities and non-profit business to create such powerful guerilla marketing, such as this example by World Water Week.
They bottled and packaged dirty water that people from third world countries have to drink every day, they even kitted out vending machines to make their Dirty Water completely authentic.
By taking the dirty water out of the context and environment it is usually in and putting it into a scenario, buying a drink from a vending machine, that would usually be so normal for New Yorkers, creates a powerful contrast that really gets the message across.
96.3 Rock Radio
It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone loves to thrash around with an air guitar and pretend they are their favourite artist, band or singer. This funny advert takes that thought quite literally with two racks full of air guitars.
Humour and the innocence of this stunt makes it so appealing and memorable, everyone remembers being a kid and rocking out with an air guitar and everyone can laugh at the thought of actually picking up an air guitar from a guitar stand, like it’s a tangible object.
McDonalds Free Coffee
This sculpture like sign from McDonalds was used as a means of promoting their offer of free coffee, it’s ingenius design attracted a lot of attention and plaudits, and no wonder. It has a double take quality and some people might miss it all together if they don’t take a proper, close look.
This piece of guerrilla marketing is what makes guerrilla marketing so great, it takes an extremely mundane and normal sign post and transforms it almost into a work of art.
And When Guerrilla Marketing Backfires…
Guerrilla marketing is like any form of advertising, sometimes things can go really, really badly and you can cause irreparable damage to your business or cause. But don’t think for a second that this only happens to marketing and advertising amateurs, this has happened to some of the big corporations in the world, here are a few of the most notable and famous.
Cartoon Network’s 2007 Boston Bomb Scare
These bizarre looking LED placards cost the boss of Cartoon Network his job and it also cost the parent company a whopping $2 million in compensation but what actually happened?
Well back in 2007, the makers of the Cartoon Network show Aqua Teen Hunger Force were looking for some awareness, they decided to create these LED placards depicting characters from the show and placing them all around Boston, sounds fairly innocent and not controversial at all, right?
Well police officers who didn’t have a clue what they were thought they were explosive devices and ordered them to be taken down, which entailed closing off streets and getting specialist bomb disposal units in as well, all very expensive and time consuming.
The bomb scares this stunt caused created a lot of negative press for Cartoon Network and in the end Jim Samples, then boss, decided to resign after the clean up operation cost parent company, Turner Broadcasting, a cool two million dollars and a lot of bad press.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Imagine one day you woke up and walked around your city to find abusive graffiti aimed at you, with your name in bold, black writing. Well for some people in 2008, exactly that happened and they were not pleased.
Weeks before the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall was released, graffiti style posters starting appearing with insults aimed at a person named Sarah Marshall. With knowledge of the film, this is actually quite funny and clever but without that knowledge it’s odd.
Everyone likes a teaser campaign like this but not when your actual name is Sarah Marshall, some people with the name were so annoyed they even returned fire with one person telling Judd Apatow, the director, that he sucked.
The Future of Guerrilla Marketing
Guerrilla marketing is not a modern phenomenom, whilst the term was only invented in the 1970s, in one form or another guerrilla marketing has existed since the dawn of time. One thing you can guarantee is that companies and groups will start to use modern technology even more as part of their marketing mix.
We’ll start to see more guerrilla marketing on the internet, on mobile devices and just about any electronic device with social or viral potential. And for every successful example of guerrilla marketing we come across, you can be assured that there will be twenty more that are not quite as successful or fruitful.
Get a visual insight into guerrilla marketing by checking out our guerrilla marketing infographic here.