At first glance, “guerrilla marketing” sounds quite extreme — after all, it is named after a violent, ancient war tactic. But, when you consider its actual definition, it makes much more sense why so many brands have integrated it into their marketing strategies.
According to HubSpot, guerrilla marketing is “a way to drive publicity and, as a result, brand awareness by promoting using unconventional methods designed to evoke surprise, wonder, or shock.”
While some brands opt for downtown flash mobs to promote their new product, others turn to well-placed graffiti or customized stickers to increase brand awareness. But no matter what method a brand chooses, the goal is to grab consumers' attention with something out of the ordinary and memorable.
As a general rule, the best examples of guerrilla marketing integrate themselves into their surroundings in clever and playful ways — but don’t interrupt people’s days too aggressively. Remember, guerrilla marketing doesn’t have to be illegal or borderline insane to be successful — it just has to be fun, surprising, or shocking enough to be remembered.
So, let’s take a look at some of the most exciting types of guerrilla marketing you can try in 2022 and discuss the pros and cons.
Why Is Guerrilla Marketing Effective?
The end goal of all marketing is to turn unaware consumers into loyal customers. Of course, there are many stages in between — very few people go from not knowing about a brand one day to becoming a lifetime brand advocate the next.
It takes time, effort, and a whole lot of budget to nurture consumers through the brand funnel — from increasing brand awareness to improving consideration to maintaining loyalty, the goal of every marketing manager is the same: acquire and maintain customers.
So, where does guerrilla marketing fit in? Well, consumer attention has become a precious commodity over the last few decades. Almost constantly surrounded by ads, consumers have become increasingly numb to ad forms that used to work wonders.
For example, back in the 1950s, a colorful billboard ad was all the rage. Large, eye-catching, and novel, consumers noticed them immediately and remembered the brands that were featured.
Fast forward to 2022 and most consumers don’t give a billboard more than a passing glance. They’ve become so common that they almost fade into the background. Therefore, brand and marketing managers have had to come up with increasingly creative ways to grab consumer attention.
And that is where guerrilla marketing fits in.
A type of marketing that relies heavily on the element of surprise and creativity, in many cases, guerrilla marketing is an inexpensive, effective method to increase brand awareness. All it takes is a heavy dose of imagination and the willingness to try something new — oh, and a lot of detailed planning.
In 2022, guerrilla marketing has been around for a while and, thus, there are many different methods that you can try out. So, let’s discuss a few different types of guerrilla marketing, as well as a handful of examples of successful guerrilla marketing campaigns.
3 Guerrilla Marketing Methods To Try in 2022
There’s no one way to launch a guerrilla marketing campaign, and that’s part of its appeal. It can be surprising, shocking, and even downright crazy — as long as it fits with your brand identity.
So, let’s take a look at some examples of great guerrilla marketing from the past to see if they could work for your brand in the future.
1. Reverse Graffiti: Most Environmentally-Friendly
Source: Stephan Giannini
Most examples of guerrilla marketing fall into the “outdoor” category, as grabbing the attention of consumers is often easier accomplished in public areas. Like other forms of guerrilla marketing, outdoor options often integrate existing structures into their overall design. One such method is reverse graffiti.
Now, everyone knows what graffiti is — and more often than not, it resides in a legal grey area. While putting graffiti on private property is surely illegal, many show more tolerance when it’s added to public space — especially when it’s a beautiful mural that visually enhances its surface.
But fewer people may have heard of reverse graffiti, or “clean” graffiti, which requires a stencil, a power washer, and a bit of time. This technique has been around for about a decade and has been used by the likes of big-name brands such as Dominos, Starbucks, Ajax, and more.
Unlike traditional graffiti, reverse graffiti “operates in a more legally ambiguous area.” If you think about it, it’s technically cleaning the sidewalk — which is nearly impossible to prosecute.
It’s also one of the most environmentally-conscious methods of guerrilla marketing, as it requires no paper, ink, paint, or other materials to set up. Therefore, it’s a great choice for sustainable brands that want to grab consumers’ attention but also stay true to their values.
Reverse graffiti campaigns can also be made interactive, which is likely to increase their effectiveness. For example, consider Dominos’ “American Legends” reverse graffiti campaign. Instead of just adding the reverse graffiti and calling it a day, Dominos turned it into a treasure hunt.
The brand “invited people to find the ads, take a selfie and upload them to the internet for the chance to win a slice of pizza.” With the help of a PR push, this campaign “produced 25 million online impressions in the first 3 months.” That’s some impressive reach!
The Takeaway: At the end of the day, a reverse graffiti guerrilla marketing campaign can be incredibly versatile — and is entirely dependent on the creative limitations of your marketing team.
So, if you’re looking for an eco-friendly way to make a splash and amplify your brand in 2022 with guerrilla marketing, reverse graffiti is a great option.
2. Customized Stickers: Most Versatile
Like many other methods of guerilla marketing, adding stickers to public or private spaces can be hit or miss. While technically illegal, many brands have been able to get away with it — or they went ahead and secured the permission of the property owner beforehand.
Either way, adding customized stickers to existing infrastructure is a creative, fun way to increase your brand awareness — and has been used by the likes of Axe, Pedigree, and Frontline.
As seen above, Axe created custom stickers to add to the right of the popular “Exit this way” signs. The sticker matches the existing signs’ style, color scheme, and size — and shows four female stick figures chasing the man running towards the exit.
A popular tenant of Axe’s marketing is that women find men who wear Axe body spray to be irresistible. This sticker campaign captures that idea perfectly, and it does so in a way that’s clever, subtle, and memorable.
Another example of a great use of stickers in guerrilla marketing is by the Polish beer brand Tyskie, which created customized stickers that fit around existing door handles.
Source: Ads of the World
When added to the doors, it looked as though the handle or the door was actually the handle of the beer glass. Furthermore, when a consumer opens the door using the handle, it looks as though they’re holding the mug of beer — making it easier for them to imagine themselves drinking Tyskie.
Innovative and amusing, the brand partnered with restaurants, shops, and pubs in the area to promote Tyskie’s products and increase brand awareness within its target audience.
Finally, another fantastic example of sticker guerrilla marketing can be found in Frontline’s well-known “Get them off your dog” floor graphic — which was located in Jakarta’s pet emporium, JAKPETZ.
Source: Capital Wraps
The floor graphic, which is quite large and covers the entire lobby, is best viewed from above — where it looks as though the people walking around are actually fleas on the larger-than-life dog.
This form of sticker guerrilla marketing is dependent on consumer interaction — after all, if no one was walking in the lobby below, the message would be lost in translation. However, because Frontline chose a busy area frequented by its target audience, this was a successful campaign that gained a good deal of attention.
The Takeaway: Using stickers as a form of guerilla marketing is versatile, clever, and — when executed well — quite memorable. However, the stickers’ location, size, and intricacy will all have an impact on their price. So, keep in mind that guerrilla marketing with customized stickers can be more expensive.
However, it’s a great way to get your brand in front of new eyes in a fun, inventive way.
3. Experiential Events: Most Impactful
Another effective form of guerilla marketing can be found in experiential events. Think flash mob or impromptu live performances — experiential guerrilla marketing is a live event that interrupts consumers’ daily routines, captures their attention, and sometimes even involves them.
For example, consider the promotion of 20th Century Fox’s 2018 movie, Red Sparrow. The company worked with Zenith Media and Eat It Up Media to orchestrate an experiential guerrilla marketing campaign in Toronto, Canada to promote the film’s upcoming release where 20 models were hired to dress up as Jennifer Lawrence’s character and walk around the city handing out mysterious business cards.
Source: Valens Research
Each card had a kiss mark on one side and a bit of text on the other side, which read: “Red Sparrow Movie Premiere, All the showtimes in the nearest movie theatre”. The models walked around Yonge-Dundas Square handing them out to passers-by — with the goal to “promote the movie and appeal to a wide target market of heavy movie-goers (demographic: 18 to 49 years old for both genders).”
According to the VP of Marketing at Twentieth Century Fox Canada, this guerrilla marketing stunt was “the cherry on top” of their overall PR strategy and helped “make it a little more slick, a little more interesting to the general public.”
While many consumers may have seen a traditional billboard or heard a radio ad promoting the film, this bit of experiential guerilla marketing is what stood out the most in the end.
Another example of successful experiential guerrilla marketing is Volkswagen’s “Speed up your life - Take the slide!” campaign from back in 2010. The brand installed a large, playground-style slide in the Alexanderplatz train station, located in Berlin, Germany.
The goal of the campaign was such that “instead of taking the stairs or escalator down to the train, commuters could take what Volkswagen labeled as, ‘the fast lane’ by hopping on the slide and zooming down to the train level.”
The key to this campaign’s success was the surprise factor — as well as its fun, whimsical approach. Consumers shared their experience with friends and family and it “certainly made an impression on all involved and had them wondering about the occasion.”
Of course, Volkswagen made a video of commuters of all ages joyfully using the slide — which helped the campaign go viral. It now has over 8 million views on YouTube and was a success all around.
The Takeaway: Planning and executing an experiential guerrilla marketing campaign is no mean feat — it requires a great deal of time, money, and organization. That being said, it’s one of the most effective and impactful forms of guerrilla marketing — as it’s usually impossible to ignore.
And in today’s digital age, a clever experiential guerrilla marketing campaign can also have an online impact — as it may go viral and gain the attention of even more consumers.
The Pros & Cons of Guerrilla Marketing
Before you decide that your next team project will 100% be a guerrilla marketing campaign, it’s best to consider the pros and cons. While fun and potentially effective, guerrilla marketing isn’t the right approach for every brand.
So, before you start planning, consider the following:
Can be cost-effective (although this is dependent on the method you choose)
Allows for more creative freedom & is highly customizable
Can have a big emotional impact
Can go viral & amplify your brand awareness
Can get your brand in trouble with the authorities (i.e. fines, legal action)
Can cause controversy & backlash if misunderstood
No guarantee of success
Keeping these benefits and risks in mind, you’ll then need to ask yourself questions like:
“Does my team possess the creativity to launch a successful guerrilla campaign?”
“Is my brand ready to deal with any public backlash this might produce?”
“Do we have a full understanding of the legality of our chosen guerrilla marketing method?”
If you hesitated to answer any of those questions with an easy yes, then you may want to take a step back and do more research before entering the planning phase. A successful guerrilla marketing campaign is heavily dependent on having a rock-solid concept, as well as a detailed fall-out plan.
Guerrilla marketing can be bold, compelling, and unforgettable — and brands that manage to roll out a successful guerrilla marketing campaign will reap the rewards. But they’re not as easy as they look. A great deal of creativity and organizational skill is required to craft a successful campaign.
Plus, they’re also not the right fit for every brand. But, if a wacky, whimsical approach to marketing and branding fits your brand image and identity, then we say go for it!
And if you want to learn how your guerrilla marketing campaign may have impacted your target audience’s perception of your brand, then we recommend using brand monitoring software — which provides accurate, reliable insights into consumers’ thoughts and opinions.