Guerilla marketing is a low-cost, innovative and unconventional marketing technique used to obtain maximum exposure for a specific brand, product or a service. What separates it from a mere public stunt is its budget-friendly nature and the largest investment is more creative and intellectual than being a financial one. But what are some of the best examples of creative and jaw-dropping, guerilla marketing?
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
The single most popular and well-known case of successful guerilla marketing is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It combined individual identification, peer-to-peer pressure and mass interest to get both the average Joe and some of the most influential people including TV anchors, Hollywood A-listers and social media celebrities to spread awareness about ALS by being nominated to participate, stepping up to the challenge and continuing the trend by nominating three additional people.
The challenge itself was easy to recreate in a matter of minutes, highly social and flattering in regards to its participants by allowing them to advance a charitable cause without appearing as a self-obsessed attention seeker. In 2014 alone, the challenge managed to raise a mind-boggling $115 million and include celebrities such as Bill Gates, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Oprah, Robert Downey Jr., and the list just keeps going on.
One notable example of participants refusing to do the challenge is Sir Patrick Stewart who, instead, wrote a large check and kindly encouraged others to extend their support for this great cause.
Dollar Shave Club
Business owner, social media guru and the godfather of YouTube vlogging, Casey Neistat, has once described the recipe for making viral videos: it needs to send a clear message, be fresh, relatable and in the now, using just the right timing. That’s exactly what the subscription-based, shaving company did, blowing up the internet with their hilarious video which has accumulated more than 24 million views since its launch.
The company managed to echo the spirit of Old Spice ads with such ease that it left many other companies in a scramble, trying to recreate Dollar Shave Club’s original success. Was the campaign a success? One YouTube commenter has summed it up quite well, stating that their commercial is the best example of how to get viewers to NOT click the skip ad button.
Medallia & Médecins du Monde
During SXSW 2014, Medallia representatives partnered with Austin-based Foundation for the Homeless to ask attendees if they would give up the freebies they received during the festival to help raise awareness for the homelessness issue in Austin, Texas. The campaign resonated with the attendees, who gave up almost 50lbs of unwanted swag and even started a hashtag #SwagDonationSXSW to promote the initiative even further.
Médecins du Monde did something similar in Paris, by setting up tents across the city to raise awareness for the overly abundant homeless population. Instead of advertising and setting up billboards, the association took the matter into their own hands and demonstrated the gravity of the homeless situation in Paris to the ongoing passers-by. The campaign has reached so much media attention from around the world that the Paris officials convened an off-season session to address the issue of homelessness in Paris and announced that they will be allocating around $10 million to help build new emergency shelters.
Greene King is one of many small establishments and neighboring pubs who feared being overtaken by big corporate retail. But what they did warmed the hearts of many across the globe: they installed cameras inside local pubs in order to capture some of the most heart-warming, meaningful moments ranging from birthdays and weddings to funeral receptions and mournings of lost loved ones.
All the videos were sheared on Greene King’s YouTube account and posed a simple question: How would their share such beautiful moments if it wasn’t for these neighborhood pubs and meeting places? If you’re as moved by their example as the rest of us and you need help coming up with such creative ideas, don’t hesitate to consult some of the best digital agencies available to help you find just the right tactic for your business.
UNICEF’s Dirty Water campaign
The most gut-wrenching and eye-opening guerilla marketing tactics were actually performed by UNICEF in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world, New York. The campaign asked a simple question: how would people react if the relief organization bottled the dirty water that millions of people in developing countries have to drink every day and sold it from a vending machine?
Just to let the information sink in, UNICEF labeled each button on the machine with a different disease caused and spread due to the lack of clean drinking water including Cholera, Hepatitis, and Yellow Fever. The people could “buy” the water by donating cash directly to the vending machine or send a text using their phones with UNICEF promising that every dollar would provide 40 days of safe drinking water to one child in need.
It’s perfectly normal for guerilla marketing to strike a nerve with its audience. It can be brash, in-your-face, outrageous and down-right sentimental. Even the silliest of ideas might end up being a huge success. But what’s really important is the creative part of it and not the large amounts of money being poured by large brands to make a single advertisement. Whether it’s for-profit or non-profit sector, digital or in real life, make sure you give your audience a show and provide them with a meaningful and thoughtful experience, instead of simply marketing a specific product or a service.