3 Guerrilla Marketing Ideas That Will Shock and Awe

“A true leader always keeps an element of surprise up his sleeve, which others cannot grasp but which keeps his public excited and breathless.”

Charles de Gaulle, former President of France

An element of surprise is what sits at the heart of a successful guerrilla marketing campaign. Most often, people don’t expect to meet a street team in the subway or see a flash mob perform in the mall. And, it’s this element of surprise that can earn event marketers, program directors and agencies the biggest bang for their buck. In fact, Emory University and Baylor College of Medicine researchers have evidence. New pictures of the brain show its “pleasure centers are more ‘turned on’ when we experience unpredictable pleasant things, compared to expected pleasant events.” In short, when it comes to pleasure, the brain prefers a pleasant surprise over the best-laid plans.

Luckily, many brands have seen great success in this arena, and there are several guerrilla marketing ideas for companies to consider. It doesn’t matter if indoor, outdoor, at an event or as a standalone experience. In any case, your primary goal will be to instill an element of surprise that leaves consumers breathless.


Why Guerrilla Marketing is So Noisy

Guerrilla marketing has grown in popularity over the past few decades due to its low-cost nature. And the attractive nature of its minimal expense was rivaled only by its potential impact. This makes it a win-win for companies large to small, which are executing it in varied styles, too.

Wireless service provider T-Mobile leads the way in executing diverse guerrilla marketing campaigns. The brand has activated multi-city street teams to drive traffic to its stores. Several years ago, in London, it surprised commuters in two prime locations with flash mobs. And, its CEO has even engaged in publicity stunts, such as via ads and his own Twitter account, calling out competitors. These examples are textbook guerrilla marketing. And, even though consumers see T-Mobile as a tame, reliable brand, its ideas are far from predictable. It’s these and other guerrilla marketing tactics that bring the element of surprise to create maximum brand awareness.

Guerrilla Marketing Ideas That Will Surprise Consumers

Coming up with guerrilla marketing ideas can put event marketers, program directors and agencies at the white board for hours. Here are three ways that top brands have used guerrilla marketing to create surprise and excite consumers.

1. Incorporate technology.

A few years ago, Pepsi used augmented reality to shock and awe London residents who were waiting in a bus shelter. Some saw a tiger approaching. Others watched as an alien’s tentacle grabbed people off the street. And, these were only a few scenarios of the technology’s application, which left many breathless. The beverage brand captured their reactions and shared the footage to extend its reach.

Pepsi’s activation required extensive preparation and on-site logistics. Yet, thanks to technological advancements, brands can harness the same power with less labor. Virtual reality headsets, for example, are portable and are proven to enhance consumer experience. Brands can virtually transport people on the street to their brewery, a music festival, or even outer space.

Other forms of event tech exist for brands to choose from to create the experience their marketing teams envision.

2. Keep it personal. 

It’s easy to see how technology can leave a lasting impression. And, other brands have effectively used simpler means, such as projection mapping or billboards, to surprise passersby. One well-known example is from Frontline, the manufacturer of the dog flea and tick product. Its ad took over the entire lower floor of a mall with an image of a dog scratching itself. From higher floors, shoppers walking on the ad appeared to be the flies or fleas irritating the dog. This astonishing spectacle of course did not go unnoticed, as people above stopped to take in the scene. But, was the ad successful?

This ad in particular had a call to action and directed people to a nearby retailer to get Frontline. Yet, imagine the impact promo staff could have made by waiting nearby to engage those who stopped to take in the ad. Brand ambassadors could have shared more information or handed out coupons to reinforce the goal. Even better, they could have provided the personal touch that consumers are looking for.

The right staff can effectually personify the brand and form connections with consumers. This demonstrates brand authenticity, a quality high on consumers’ priority lists. Brands can have promo staff on-site during high-traffic times, at a minimum, to reap these benefits and maximize ROI.

3. Partner for greater exposure.

Teaming with complementary brands is a smart way to get exposed to new audiences. It also allows for cost and resource sharing or can provide means to offer an enhanced experience. Examples of clever pairings include the long-running partnership of Red Bull and GoPro, which are both known for outdoor adventure. One-offs include Levi’s and Goodwill, which used a street team (in their underwear) to encourage consumers to donate their used jeans. This teaming played on Levi’s sustainability efforts and allowed Goodwill to collect more clothing. Another solution is to partner with tech providers. Not only does this give the platform exposure, it brings the “wow” to guerrilla marketing.

Further, partnering with like-minded events, or sponsoring them, is an effective channel to get in front of targeted consumers. That’s because consumers continue to prefer to buy experiences versus goods. And, their mindset doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.

Brands that have found this fruitful include REI. The retail chain uses its products to keep Ragnar running relay participants comfortable at stops. KIND Snacks promo staff have been spotted at music festivals, handing out free snacks to festival goers. These efforts too, though small, go a long way and can achieve the “awe” to endear consumers to brands.

Elevate’s event staffing services ensure that every guerrilla marketing campaign delivers the shock and awe that it intends. Contact us to learn more about how we can execute your campaign the right way.


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