This is an extract from ‘The Unexpected History of Guerrilla Marketing‘, as featured on Pixartprinting.
First things first, it has nothing to do with furry primates. The term ‘guerrilla marketing’ was inspired by guerrilla warfare: Small groups of militants or civilians using irregular tactics to win battles against a much stronger, better armed opponent. But the most basic definition of guerrilla marketing is using unconventional tactics to beat out your competition and spread your marketing message – usually with a limited budget.
How did guerrilla marketing get started?
From the moment the first papyrus poster was slapped up on the wall of an ancient Egyptian marketplace around 4,000BC, advertising has always been about stealing the customer’s attention.
In the 18th century, the first advertisements started showing up in newspapers. It was one century later, however, when Thomas J. Barratt, who worked for the Pears Soap company, pioneered the use of slogans, images and catch-phrases to associate a product with a desired perception. Barratt pulled off one of the first and best guerrilla marketing stunts of all time when he imported half a million French coins, imprinted them with Pears’ name and released them into circulation.
It was creative approaches like this that laid the groundwork for brands to start thinking about different, more innovative ways to get attention. And by the 20th century, mass marketing was in full swing and attitudes in marketing were changing.
When the first radio stations switched on in the early 1920s, businesses began to sponsor entire programs, paying to have their brand mentioned throughout. Later, short blocks of advertising were introduced as they were easier to sell – and more lucrative. The same thinking carried over to television in the 1950s, and by the time cable television was humming in the 1980s there were entire channels devoted to advertising.
But with time people were getting used to tuning out marketing messages and ignoring advertisements across every channel. They’d mute TV commercials (and as the tech emerged, fast-forward), hang up on telemarketers and flipped past the ads in magazines faster than Usain Bolt on a Red Bull binge. And advertising prices kept increasing. Something had to change.
Along came the guerrilla
In the early 80s, small businesses were desperate to find ways to compete with juggernauts who could easily out-buy them in the media. In 1983, the term ‘guerrilla marketing’ was popularised by author Jay Conrad Levinson, who proposed that instead of playing by the marketing rules of paying for exposure in traditional ad channels, he proposed that marketers could do something clever, funny, outrageous or unique to get customer attention – but most of all, it had to be surprising.
So what does guerrilla marketing look like out in the wild?
Ambient marketing focuses on getting advertisements in unusual places where they wouldn’t normally be found. Check out this video:
Undercover marketing attempts to sell a consumer on a product or idea without them ever knowing they’re being hit with a sales pitch. Sales agents pose as average Joes and create scenarios that put the product front and center in a way that just seems natural. Omnicom Group Inc. pulled off one of the most memorable undercover marketing campaigns for Sony Ericsson when they launched their T68i, the first cell phone with a digital camera. 60 different actors across ten major cities posed as couples looking to get their picture taken. They’d ask strangers to snap a shot – then hand them the cell phone and talk excitedly about all of the phone’s features. The effort propelled the T68i to become one of the best selling phones of the year.
This is a highly active and engaged form of marketing that connects people with your brand through a shared experience and capitalises on the immediate emotional responses that come out of that interaction. I
A great example from a lesser-known brand: Granata Pet food delighted dog owners when they created a series of billboards where dog walkers could check in on Foursquare. Upon check-in the billboard would dispense dog food for their furry friends.
And what about this Skyfall launch campaign?
This article was written by digital printing services Pixartprinting, with the help of Sam Ewen, founder of Interference Inc., author Jonathan Margolis and Steven Severn, who is the founder of GuerrillaCheeseMarketing.com. Follow the link above to read more.
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