Marketers and their Monkey Business: Trends in Guerrilla Marketing

Every day, marketers strive to find creative ways to reach their audiences. One of those creative methods is Guerrilla Marketing. Wikipedia defines guerrilla marketing as:  “an advertising strategy in which low-cost unconventional means (graffiti, sticker bombing, flash mobs) are utilized, often in a localized fashion or large network of individual cells, to convey or promote a product or an idea.”

Typically, if done well, guerrilla marketing causes people to look twice and enjoy the concept presented to them. It will create a lasting impression that could then be passed along by word of mouth, photo sharing, and repeat visits.

“Done poorly, guerrilla marketing can make your company look like a nightmare. Done correctly, it is one of the single most powerful marketing tools.” –  Erik Hauser, Founder and Creative Director, Swivel Media

As mentioned in the quote above, a poorly executed ad could diminish your brand. For example: in an effort to promote a cartoon television show called “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”, the broadcasters placed several LED signs across Boston in 2007. Even though it seemed to raise awareness, the broadcasters forgot to notify the authorities of the purpose of these signs. As a result, these complex-wired signs were suspected to be bombs, and taken down by the state police. Turner Broadcasting had to pay millions of dollars to homeland security to solve the problem. See the picture below:

Boston Guerrilla Bomb Scare

The major advantages of guerrilla marketing are high exposure and significant long-term impressions. High exposure can also become a major disadvantage if the ad was done wrong. People are more likely to repeat negative comments than positive ones, therefore, they are more likely to tell their friends about a poorly executed ad. In order to avoid negative exposure, intensive market research should be taken into account, prior to putting a guerrilla ad on display.

As for local guerrilla marketing, I was able to witness one at Winterlude in Ottawa two years ago:

Rogers/Samsung Ice Phone at Winterlude 2010

This is an effective way to market Rogers and Samsung brands in a high traffic area. It creates a lasting impression because festival attendees can take photos of each other in the phone and share it with friends. It gets passed along by word of mouth. Also to the left of the photo, you can see a few phones frozen into the ice-wall, as a part of the display.

A few other examples of effective guerilla marketing include a coffee cup promoting a plastic surgeon’s business, a street ad promoting National Treasure the movie, and a lamp post promoting McDonald’s free coffee day. All of them are successful in generating awareness and lasting impressions. Take a look:

Free Coffee Day at McDonalds

National Treasure Guerrilla Marketing

Plastic Surgery Coffee Cup


Guerrilla Marketing really captures our attention and helps us appreciate the ad much more than just a regular print ad or commercial. We can relate to them, and in turn want to share them with others. Even if we don’t purchase what is being advertised, its all about awareness. I’d like to see more marketers advertise like this here in Ottawa in the not to distant future. Lets give them something to talk about.




Balloon Animals and Beer–International Commonalities in Advertising

In many advertisements we see on TV, we find commonalities that can be applied to cultures worldwide. After reviewing a few ads on the Cresta International Advertising Awards website, I came across an ad that not only has beautiful copy, but also has those international commonalities. Below is an english version of an ad for a German job-finding site, .

The cultural universal that is associated with this ad is the need for a career that makes one happy. It contradicts all the stereotypical downsides to being a fisherman, that it is not boring, nor frustrating, nor lonely.  Then it proceeds to ad a bit of humour when the main character turns a fish into a balloon animal.   The main message–if you feel that you are in the wrong job, there are more options available to you if you visit the It is questionable whether or not this ad would be deemed acceptable in Canada. There is a large animal rights movement here in Canada, and activists might think that turning a fish into a balloon animal is slightly barbaric. Job finding sites, such as, use a similar kind of “epic-ness” if you will, and finish with a more acceptable, and humourous scene asking if the main character needs a new job. Take the following ad for example:

As an advertising enthusiast, I notice some fine detail in many ads. No words are said in this Heineken beer commercial from the Netherlands, yet if you’ve seen their other creative, many of the characters come from their own separate Heineken ad. Watch below and see:

You can recognize the one eyed man, the kung fu man, and more from other Heineken commercials. It is an example on non-verbal communication that Heineken brings everyone together. Featuring guests from around the world, Heineken assimilates an abundance of cultures together to create a gem of an ad. Another underlying statement I picked up is that Heineken is “impressive”. The leading man turns down a fancy drink, a martini (or champagne in the short version), and reaches for the beer instead. However, before he finally gets his own bottle, he goes through several “impressive” stints such as: offering the one eyed man an eyeball, play-shooting the cowboy, performing a magic trick, and play-fighting the Kung-Fu guy. He then changes his black suit to a white one, a symbol of being revered and respected. He earned the respect of the guests and therefore earned his beer thanks to his brilliant entrance.

Check out the Cresta International Advertising Awards website for more extravagant ads.


Check your watches Advertisers, It’s “Appy Hour”

Nowadays, developing a brand personality is no longer about creating entertaining advertisements, it’s about creating an experience. It is so easy to skip ads or fast forward through them thanks to digital TV’s and PVR’s, that the messages that these brands are trying to get across are not being heard. Advertisers have to try and find innovative ways of keeping consumers engaged  and focus on the utility of their brands. Many brands have yet to realize that:

“Content is not the end game here. The end game is giving the consumer value and utility. If the most value for the consumer would be derived from free shipping, or a new piece of software, or a better user experience, then doing a feature film integration isn’t the right answer.” Jonah Bloom, Advertising Age

In most cases, mobile apps are the way to go. According to a recent Neilson study, 40% of the US population are using smartphones.

% Breakdown of Smartphones in the US Market 2011

% Breakdown of Smartphones in the US Market 2011

That 40% of the market have the advantage of downloading apps to make day to day activities more convenient. Marketers can use that to their advantage. As an iPhone owner, I use many different apps everyday. This includes anything from the traditional social media apps including Facebook and Twitter, to branded apps. My favourite “branded” apps are the RBC Mobile Banking app and the Weather Network app. These brand made a utility that brings the convenience of checking the weather or transferring money from one account to another, right to your fingertips. Another neat app is the Tim Horton’s Timmy Me. It shows all the nearby Tim Horton’s locations, your  Tim Card balance, nutrition facts, and even a convenient little note pad to take down orders. The app coincides well with the 5 brand utility “virtues”. It is interactive, helpful, interesting, relational and genuinely useful.

There are a couple local brands that have created apps to better reach their audiences. Place d’Orleans Shopping Centre has their own app which allows users to see promotions within the mall, check their Place d’Orleans gift card balance, an interactive map of the mall and links to the PdO’s social networks. Another nameable local brand is Hot 89.9. Their app allows users to listen live, enter contests, view the program guide and visit their facebook. Both these brands are reaching their audiences on a higher level. Users are carrying the brands everywhere with them.

A brand that I would like to see develop and app would be the LCBO. They have several different promotions year round that could also be promoted using an app. They could show their featured products, add tasting notes to popular wines, offer recipes and beverage pairings (like Food and Drink magazine). Also, they could add a gift card balance component, store locator and more. It would be convenient as it is one of the stores with the highest traffic in Ontario. It would be another way for the LCBO to reach their clientele on a more personal level.

In my opinion, the best brand utility at present is brand applications. More and more brands are going to see the value of developing these apps to better reach their audiences. Smartphone users, prepare yourselves!

Chart Link:

“Superbad-vertising” – Hidden Advertisements in a High-School Flick

Its incredible how many brands make an appearance in our favourite hollywood movies. Some of these product placements are intentional while others are just there. As a hybrid case study in my international advertising class, we were asked to watch a movie and record all the different brands that we saw. I chose the popular high school party-life flick, Superbad.

Right off the get-go, popular brands such as Coco Puffs, and Honda make an appearance. Evan and Seth, two main characters, walk into a convenience store where Seth proceeds to buy a Red Bull. Other small appearances do occur throughout the movie(see list below), but the most obvious ones were Frito Lay and Pepsi. There are packages of Doritos, Cheetos, Ruffles and Fritos in several scenes as well a cans of Sunkist “Mist”, which is a Pepsi product. Also on the wall outside the liquor store, there is a Pepsi sign that is visible throughout the scene

Pepsi sign on Liquor Store in Superbad

Pepsi sign on Liquor Store in Superbad

Both Frito-Lay and Pepsi would be considered arranged product placement. Since so many packages of Frito-Lay and Pepsi products are used in the movie, I believe that in exchange for air-time, the producers of Superbad were compensated with ample supplies of Pepsi and Frito-Lay products. See the “How Stuff Works” article on product placement below for more information on arranged product placement. The other brands are shown so quickly that it seems that they are just there coincidently.

Here’s a list of other brands that I spotted in the movie:

Coco Puffs, Honda, Red Bull, Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos, Ruffles, Frito-Lay, G-Shock, Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Puma, Under Armor, Tabasco, Sunkist, World of WarCraft, C.C.T. Busses, Toyota, Ford, Quaker, Xtra Detergent, Pepsi, Sambuca, Myspace.

Another cool thing I found was that the liquor featured in the film were fictional brands that can be translated into real brands. Two nameable ones are Goldslick Vodka and Old Musketeer Beer. Both are easy to associate with the traditional brands Goldschlager Cinnamon Schnapps Liqueur, and Old Milwaukee Beer. The association isn’t really considered product placement, but it gets the brands some recognition.

My list only consists of 25 brands in Superbad. Imagine how many brands are recognized in bigger motion pictures. Brands are everywhere!

“How Stuff Works-What is Product Placement”

To put it bluntly… we creep your Facebook.

Great news ladies! You can finally put those anti-aging creams away because social media marketers don’t give a hoot about your age! Research shows that marketers are more interested in your psychographics than how old you are. This is not to say you should say that you’re 25 on Facebook when really you’re 45. Be proud of your age, but more importantly, be proud of your interests. Talk about them, comment on your friend’s interests. Talk about everything you care about. Why? Because the internet listens! That goes for you too gentlemen.
In previous years, and even now, marketers have been investing a great sum of advertising dollars in demographic research. New products were advertised to a men and/or women of a certain age, with incomes between this and that. But nowadays, it’s all about the psychographics of a person, especially when it comes to harvesting information from social media sites. Although the adoption of psychographic research came about in the 1960’s, it has just begun to reach its potential.
I recently watched  a Ted Talks video where Johanna Blakley discusses how social media has reduced the need for demographic research and the dominance of women on social networks. She mentions how easy it is to falsify your age online, as well as other demographic attributes. With so many people connected to each other, advertisers can now find out who likes certain foods, where they go to purchase that meal, who goes with them etc. It is a giant web of personal characteristics and trends that connects everyone at one point or another.
Since social media is primarily dominated by women, female opinions and subjects are concentrated. It is an ideal place for marketers to target women, based on their psychographic data. A lot more advertising dollars will be spent on researching these psychographics in order to best reach an audience.
In my opinion, I don’t think that social networking is the end of gender segmentation. Although users are predominantly female, men also use these networks. I think using the right demographics, in addition to the psychographic information collected, will be necessary for great advertising. Also knowing which sites to look at for male/female opinions is key. If I we’re to research what men are thinking about on a certain topic, I might check out Reddit. For females, I would check out Pinterest. For both, Facebook and Twitter would be my “go-to” websites.
In short, social media research is going to help marketers find those psychographic details necessary for great campaigns, all the while keeping in tune with relevant demographic factors. Knowing where to look is also key.
So, ladies and gentlemen, help out your fellow marketers and start talking! Well typing that is.
Check out Johanna Blakley’s chat on social media here: