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What is Guerrilla Marketing?

  • 6 min read



When someone mentions the word “guerrilla” marketing is not the first association that comes to mind, right? It’s an intense word that reminds us of conflict. And that’s definitely not something most people want to associate with.

But guerrilla marketing is not some form of aggressive communication. It’s actually a great way to raise brand awareness among your audience with clever, outside of box thinking.

Guerrilla marketing refers to a collection of low-cost, high-impact marketing strategies resembling the ambush-and-run tactics of guerrilla warfare. Rather than spending large sums of money to create one-way messages, guerrilla marketers develop creative ways to put their marketing messages in front of consumers in the real world.

Large quantities of money are not necessarily required to perform guerrilla marketing — making it an ideal strategy for startups and small businesses.

The term Guerrilla Marketing was coined by Jay Levinson in his book aptly titled ‘Guerrilla Advertising’. The guerrilla part refers to guerrilla warfare, which is a style of warfare based upon small and irregular tactics that are used by armed militias.

But what does mean in everyday life and business?

In marketing, guerrilla techniques mostly play on the element of surprise. It sets out to create highly unconventional campaigns that catch people unexpectedly in the course of their day-to-day routines. You’ll see what that looks like in some the examples below.

The effectiveness of guerrilla marketing campaigns can be measured by the amount of attention they attract – in contemporary marketing terms, the amount of engagement they incite.Guerrilla marketing campaigns, which typically involve some serious thinking outside of the box, can be a smart way to grab attention.

Guerrilla marketing types

Here’s a list of the most common guerrilla marketing types:

  • Graffiti: Graffiti marketing uses city streets and alleyways as a giant canvas. While smaller, more covert operations will make their mark wherever they want, for most businesses it’s recommended to get permission from a property owner before they start their activities.
  • Viral/buzz marketing: any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence. Off the Internet, viral marketing has been referred to as “word-of-mouth”, “creating a buzz”, “leveraging the media”. On the Internet, it’s called “viral marketing”
  • Undercover/stealth marketing: In this type of marketing, marketers disguise themselves as peers amongst their target audience, and spread the word about their products.
  • Flash mobs: Flash mobs involve organizing a group of individuals to perform a specific action or task at a pre-determined location and time. In some cases participants are hired actors, other times they are simply members of the community who enjoy the randomness of flash mobs.

Pros and cons of guerrilla marketing

There are several benefits and advantages guerrilla marketing has over traditional marketing (there are some disadvantages as well).

Let’s begin by taking a look at the advantages:

Pros of guerrilla marketing

  • It’s budget-friendly. Guerrilla marketing tactics are a lot cheaper than traditional advertising methods.

  • Allows for creative thinking. In this type of marketing, imagination is more important than budget.
  • Brand associations and publicity. With guerrilla marketing you can get a lot of free publicity and create positive brand associations among your audience.

Cons of guerrilla marketing

  • It can be difficult to measure the effectiveness in terms of ROI
  • It can be misunderstood by the audience.
  • There’s a potential for a backlash if the campaigns are not executed well.

    There’s no denying that guerrilla marketing tactics can provide great results to a business willing to take some risks.

    Examples of guerrilla marketing

    Here are some famous examples of guerrilla advertising done right.

    1. Red Bull skydiving stunt

    Red Bull partnered with Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner to set the world record for the highest skydive jump. Of course, Red Bull sponsored the event so their logos were all over Felix’s bodysuit and the entire event was live. 

    Image source

    1. King Kong 3D footprints

    To build buzz for the new release of King Kong 3D, massive footprints were scattered about beaches and people took to social media to share their experiences. These footprints were larger than life and looked like they would have come from the actual Kong.

    guerrilla marketing king kong

    Image source

    1. Axe exit signs

    Axe used customer stickers attached to the classic exit signs found in most establishments. They added another sticker to it and created a story about a man running away from women chasing him, which play right into the brand’s image.

    guerrilla marketing axe

    Image source


    Guerrilla marketing can be a great way to reach the public without spending much on advertising. If you use it effectively you can delight your audience and make them a part of your brand, but you have to make sure they understand the message correctly.

    This kind of marketing can be really useful to startups and small businesses that don’t have large marketing budgets, but large companies often use them as well, as you can see in the examples above.

    It’s all about breaking away from traditional marketing methods and creating a lasting impression with the audience. If you need any help, contact us and we’ll be glad to help you.


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