5 Guerilla Marketing Examples: Bending The Rules To Make Heads Turn

In marketing, some like to play by the rules. While others are not afraid to venture into unchartered territory if that’s what it takes to gain their customer’s attention. After all, all’s fair in love and marketing! We’re going to talk about a marketing strategy suitable for entrepreneurs and marketers who love to rewrite the rules – guerilla marketing. 

In the struggle to get noticed, brands are always looking for new ideas. The more creative you get, the better the chances of your customers remembering your brand/products. And guerilla marketing goes by this philosophy. 

However, there’s often a vague or sometimes even a negative portrayal of the idea. Blame it on the nomenclature. The term ‘guerilla’ is most likely to be associated with guerilla warfare that kindles the concept of ambush and sabotage. But from the marketing perspective, it’s not that crude after all. 

So, are you ready to shatter the misconceptions about guerilla marketing and explore its possibilities for your brand? Let’s dive right in. 

Guerilla marketing – the art of creating a buzz 

Some brands create ads and some create a buzz. Which category do you belong to? If you wish to join the latter, then guerilla marketing can be the key to unlocking your potential for creating a buzz. It is an underused strategy mainly because of the fact that the idea is misconceived most of the time. We’ll tell you what guerilla marketing actually is. 

Guerilla marketing is the kind of marketing strategy where you catch customers off guard. In other words, it is the art of using an element of surprise to engage your customers. In the world of marketing where ads are about interrupting guerilla marketing is about disrupting, in a more exciting sort of way. 

Let’s put this in another way- guerilla marketing manages to get customers to voluntarily engage with your ad. In this, customers become a part of the ad without having to make an effort. 

If the explanation did not clarify the idea, we’ll give you an example. 

This is marketing:

And this is guerilla marketing: 

When your ad appears like an ad, it’s traditional marketing. When it seamlessly blends into your customer’s everyday life and the places they visit, it is guerilla marketing. 

Having laid the foundation for the topic, let’s now talk about the benefits of guerilla marketing and why big brands often use this strategy. 

Benefits of unconventional strategies like guerilla marketing 

  • Guerilla marketing is known for its cost-effectiveness. Because it is about relevance and context rather than about the scale. But the returns are much better.
  • This strategy is about creating memorable experiences, about emotionally stimulating your audience from the first encounter. And that gives you a headstart to better customer relationships. 
  • Since many creative guerilla marketing campaigns can be created on a small budget even small businesses venturing into a competitive industry can benefit from them. 
  • Guerilla marketing is quite an effective tool when it comes to local advertising. Even if there are big brands to compete with, when you get creative with your local advertising strategies and reach the right people at the right time, you make a difference. 
  • About 54% of purchase decisions are based on word-of-mouth marketing. When customers hear a friend or colleague talk about a brand or a product they are more likely to consider it rather than when they see a random ad on social media. A traditional marketing approach is not enough to get people talking about your brand. Guerilla marketing has that impact. 

Types of guerilla marketing strategies 

There are various marketing strategies under the umbrella of guerilla marketing. The misconceptions about this strategy come from the somewhat unorthodox approach of some of these sub-strategies. A few types of guerilla marketing strategies are: 

  • Outdoor/indoor – depending on the kinds of locations used for the campaign. 
  • Experiential – when the campaign calls for customers to interact with the setup.
  • Ambient marketing – in place of the usual indoor and outdoor spaces, this one incorporates ignored areas like elevators and stairs. 

As you can see, when it comes to guerilla marketing, the possibilities are endless. All it takes is to come up with a creative idea that presents your brand and products in the most memorable manner. And in a way that does not annoy your customers but rather greets them with a surprise in their everyday routines. 

Evidently, for creating a successful guerilla marketing campaign you need to understand your customers’ behaviors, their lifestyles. You should know what your target customer’s typical day looks like. That’s when you would be able to surprise them without startling them, engage them without promoting to them. 

Wondering how to experiment with this novel approach to marketing? Let’s learn from a few examples. 

6 guerilla marketing examples to inspire your next 

We’re sure your curiosity is now kindled and you’re ready to try some guerilla marketing campaigns for your brand as well. But where can you start? Ideas are in abundance when you look at the big brands that try it all. 

1. Copenhagen Zoo’s ambient marketing campaign 

When you spot a bus like this one, can you resist clicking a picture and sharing it on social media? Can you resist talking about it with your friends? Probably not! That’s the power of guerilla marketing. That’s also an indicator of the success of the idea by Copenhagen Zoo.

The idea was to promote the newly instilled reptile exhibit in the zoo. The design is relevant to the idea promoted and it’s creative enough to make passersby curious about what’s happening. 

Instead of shouting and expecting customers to listen it helps when you whisper to them, make them curious, and then present your message. This way you are communicating with them when you have their undivided attention. That’s what guerilla marketing aims for. 

Kimp Tip: At the crux of it, the above campaign by Copenhagen Zoo is also a good reminder of the power of vehicle wrap advertising. It’s a highly cost-effective method for brands to accurately target their audience based on geographical location. 

Need help creating attention-grabbing vehicle wraps to promote your brand? Get a Kimp subscription

2. IKEA France climbing wall 

To mark the opening of its 30th store in France, IKEA took billboard advertising to the next level. In this outdoor ad, IKEA created a vertical living room concept capturing its usual ad format accurately. While that idea is enough to grab attention, what made this campaign even more special was that it was converted into a climbing wall. 

Campaigns like these help build brand awareness which was something that IKEA was aiming for as it was expanding its stores in the country. The campaign also shows how without actually advertising your products or services you can build awareness and connect with new leads. 

Kimp Tip: While the display itself was interesting, the element of interaction amplified the results. That’s a good reminder of creating ads that engage your audience. In other words, this campaign shows how ads should be about talking with your customers and not about talking to them. 

3. Oldtimer’s billboard placement  

The above billboard by Oldtimer is proof that sometimes even the smallest idea can make the biggest impact as long as it is executed well. In this case, while the graphic itself is pretty simple, its placement is what adds memorability to the ad. It is one of the oldest and most recognized guerilla marketing examples.

While the design is simple, it’s also on-point. The idea was to promote an “all you can eat rest stop”. In this case, customers do not have to make a conscious effort to interact with the ad and yet they do by passing into the tunnel as they normally would. Such advertising ideas that effortlessly engage the audience depict the specialty of guerilla marketing. 

Kimp Tip: The campaign shows the need for evaluating your surroundings while designing a billboard. Sometimes, the most harmless copy might sound insensitive when placed in the wrong spot and when presented to the customers at the wrong time. So, work with your design team to visualize the design using mockups before finalizing it and printing it for the billboard. 

Billboard designs, realistic mockups – a Kimp subscription covers them all! 

4. Deadpool’s Tinder profile 

Deadpool’s marketing team has always been creative and unconventional in promoting the movie, the franchise on the whole. But a classic example of guerilla marketing from the team is the fake Tinder profile created for Deadpool. The campaign gave fans a way to connect with their favorite character and that’s a win! 

Undoubtedly, the idea does not obstruct customer experience. There’s nothing that the campaign is selling and yet it imprints the love for the character, and the film in its audience. 

Kimp Tip: If the Deadpool approach sounds a bit extreme for your brand, there are other ways to leverage social media in guerilla marketing. One of them is adding branded stickers or filters, for example. With ideas like these customers are rewarded without having to make an effort from their side. That strengthens their connection with the brand. 

5. Frontline’s floor sticker 

Ambient marketing, which is a subset of guerilla marketing is about leveraging the often overlooked surfaces, like the floors in this case. The above image shows how Frontline, a brand known for its pet flea and tick protection supplies, made use of a floor sticker effectively. 

The image hits you hard and makes you want to immediately take action, to save the poor dog from discomfort. That’s the kind of urgency and emotional response that gets your brand noticed. All this without interrupting your customers or advertising anything in their faces. 

6. TNT’s Push To Add Drama Button 

The “Push To Add Drama” campaign by TNT in Belgium shows what happens when a brand takes the mantra “show don’t tell” seriously. On an otherwise quiet town square, the brand created drama, dramatic enough to gain people’s attention.

As a part of the campaign, a red button was placed in the middle of a busy town square. While people initially hesitated to push the button, they did eventually. And this led to a series of events that took the unsuspecting audience by surprise. 

The campaign was not only a hit among the locals who witnessed the whole drama but also became a social media sensation and gained a lot of social media popularity for the brand. 

To know if the ad really worked, watch the video again. Notice the increase in the size of the crowd of onlookers. Also, see if you spot people leaving the place in the middle of the whole performance. Having your customers hooked until the very end of the presentation – now not many ads achieve that these days, do they? That’s the difference guerilla marketing makes. 

Guerilla marketing doesn’t come without its risks 

Well, with any idea that bends the rules, there are risks as there are benefits too. The same applies to guerilla marketing as well. However, most of the risks associated with this strategy are due to the lack of planning, or due to ignoring the context. Sometimes, it is also because of gaps in understanding customer sentiments. We’ll explain this with a few examples of guerilla marketing campaigns that went wrong. 

The Boston Mooninite Panic of 2007

The Boston Mooninite Panic of 2007 is a classic example of guerilla marketing taking a bad turn. This was meant to be a campaign for the Adult Swim cartoon Aqua Teen Hunger Force. But the electronic devices used in the campaign, called Mooninites were mistaken for IEDs, therefore, causing panic. The marketing campaign received a lot of backlash. 

Kimp Tip: In advertising, don’t forget to draw the line between controversy and innovation. That’s why we earlier spoke about aiming to surprise your customers and not startle them. 

Fiat’s love letters 

In 1994, Fiat came up with an idea to expand its brand awareness in Spain. As a part of this campaign, the company sent out love letters to 50,000 women. These were personal letters inviting women to a “little adventure”. The idea was far from romantic as it sent major stalker vibes and created panic among the women who received the letters. What was meant to be a “fun campaign” earned the brand a lot of negative criticism. 

Kimp Tip: The key to understanding your customers is knowing what kinds of boundaries to push and which ones to respect. In an effort to personalize the experience for them, brands cannot make it appear like they are invading the privacy of customers. Before executing a 

Ready, set, innovate – design your visuals for guerilla marketing with Kimp 

If you want a low-budget idea to win hearts, get people talking about your brand on socials, and also earn some media coverage for your brand, you need some unconventional guerilla marketing campaigns. 

Everything starts with customer-focused ideas that respect customer sentiments. Then comes the execution part. Irrespective of the medium you choose to implement the campaign, you need strong and relevant visuals that deliver your message in a clear and memorable way. Working with a dedicated design team can make a big difference in such instances. Kimp subscriptions come with a designated design team and a project manager to simplify your design workflow. 

Register now and try our free 7-day trial.