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Guerilla Marketing

  • Thread starter Stephen Denning
  • Start date
Stephen Denning

Stephen Denning

The term 'Guerrilla Marketing' was coined by Jay Levinson back in the 1980s to describe a new phenomenon in marketing involving diverse and low-cost advertising strategies. These included flash mobs, graffiti and sticker 'bombing' to promote a product, event or idea.

Levinson, in his 1984 book "Guerilla Marketing", outlined unconventional marketing strategies that were gaining a lot of attention in the media. Free product give-aways for extremely short periods of time, flash mob events that are over almost as fast as they begin, mobile and social networking campaigns that generate a unique brand experience for the user are all part of what Levinson identified as "Guerilla Marketing Weapons".

More suited to smaller businesses and individual entrepreuners, Levinson noted that Guerilla Marketing still had to fulfill the aims of traditional marketing and live up to its promises. The product still has to work and be available or the event has to live up to the hype.

The most important thing to remember about Guerilla Marketing is scale. Guerilla Tactics work on the small scale and research has shown that the smaller the better. Only when the brand experience is generating its own buzz, can you combine Guerilla strategies into a much larger campaign.

But, and I cannot stress this enough, Guerilla Marketing still has to generate business, and when analysing the success of any marketing campaign you must look at the increase in profitability, not the increase in sales.

So, what can you do?

Technology is useful here. Use social media, both mobile and networked, to generate hype. Advertise on cars, street walls, put up stickers and posters where your target audience are likely to see them. In recent years things like reverse graffiti have become popular, involving cleaning a dirty wall to create your message like the "wash me" imprints you seen on vans.

You must be unconventional, experiential and cost-effective. Controversy is a good way of generating buzz as well, but you need to make sure the controversy is positive and does not negatively impact your brand.

BMW once created a full-sized styrofoam cutout of a Mini-Cooper and attached it to the wall of a downtown Houston building. The city authorities were not impressed and BMW had to pay a fine. The picture was also plastered across the front pages of the local papers and made the local TV news. Advertising like this would normally cost much more than the small fine actually paid.

In another campaign, Nikkon set up a billboard poster of a group of paparazzi with a red carpet laid in front of it. As you walked on the carpet, so all the flashes on the cameras in the billboard went off....

Effective, but these are large businesses, what about smaller companies? A local gym turned the seat in a bus stop into some scales and had the weight of the person sat on it flashed up onto the advertising board, just above the gym's name and address. Another example is an alcohol help-line with their contact details on beer-coasters which were inserted between bottles of alcohol in local stores.

Guerilla marketing involves more creativity and can take more time, but the results are as effective as any large high-priced campaign.


New Member
Great article and interesting to read. Thanks for posting this. I love the creativity involved in some of these campaigns. They get your attention so much more than the usual ads on TV/Radio/Internet and in print media. Of course, as you say, it has to be effective, not just 'fun'. But a clever and creative agency or employee could certainly be successful at developing nontraditional, guerilla marketing techniques.


New Member
Wow, I never knew about Guerilla marketing but this seems more inclined to Offline Marketing.
I might as well try this to one of my sites targeted within my area and think of a good way to do cheap advertising that really catches peoples attention. Im planning public transportation right now.

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