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10 of the Baddest Guerrilla Marketing Campaigns by Advertising Ninjas!

Recently updated on November 15th, 2017 at 11:15 pm

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The phrase “guerrilla marketing” used to represent a type of marketing that was opportunistic, scandalous, and done by people who had to find cheap ways to market their business. In 2014, this type of “take it to the streets” marketing is far more mainstream, far more acceptable, and is generally used for big brand campaigning, website promotion, and YouTube ad purposes. However, this doesn’t mean that there are no longer any edgy or unique advertisements being created by some razor sharp marketing folk! In fact, a cavalcade of recent ad campaigns go some way to prove that the spirit of guerrilla marketing is still alive and well. For your marketing inspiration, here are 10 recent campaigns that are particularly inventive, creative and somewhat stealthy and scandalous in appeal.

Friendly Twist

Every now and then an ad agency comes up with an idea that just makes you smile. This one was a genius commercial developed by Coca-Cola that forced freshman on a college campus to interact with each other on first day of term.

Providing free cokes from a specially set-up coke dispenser, the drink could only be opened after it was matched with another coke, thus forcing conversations and the building of great new relationships. This was the perfect street marketing for a company that through consistently brilliant commercials, has a warm and fuzzy image for its cold and fizzy beverage.

AC Milan vs Real Madrid Guerrilla Stunt

In 2010, a rascally Italian marketing team came up with a genius guerrilla stunt for Heineken that almost left 1,000 Italians trapped at a classical music poetry yawnfest instead of  watching the biggest soccer game of the year as AC Milan took on Real Madrid in the Champions league.

To put it in perspective, the “classico” Italian derby is the equivalent of the  Superbowl final for Italian men, but the girlfriends, bosses, and significant others had talked these unlucky fans into giving up the game for a night of poetry and classical music. Fortunately, and to the cheers and delight of everyone  in attendance, it was finally revealed on a huge screen that the game was being shown and they no longer had to begrudgingly sit through the poetry night.

Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms shared the event for days afterwards, declaring Heineken the hero of the hour and the choice for soccer lovers all over Italy.

Eminem Reverse Graffiti

Reverse graffiti is a cool new phenomenon that is quickly being recognized by advertisers and used for marketing purposes. Created by a graffiti artist from a grimy industrial city in England, the controversial graffiti technique removes dirt from walls and pavements to reveal a clean surface underneath (rather like writing “wash me” on a dirty car window).  

The example above is a great example of a marketing match made in heaven when Universal Music Sweden took the marketing of Eminem’s new album to the streets and  created these reverse graffiti ads. Armed with nothing more than a stencil and a high powered washer, this campaign was super relevant and successful.  There have been several instances of authorities attempting to prosecute those performing this form of advertising, but prosecution has been difficult due to the temporary and non-destructive nature of the practice.

Personally I can’t imagine how cleaning something can be construed as defacing it! My advise would be to try this true guerrilla marketing technique for yourself before it’s outlawed  for no good reason.

Connected Door Stunt

The TBWA Paris ad agency created a super cute and clever stunt that they took to the streets of European cities to advertise SNCF railways. They put up brightly colored doors in public spaces around Milan, Stuttgart, Geneva, Barcelona, and Brussels  that enabled passersby to connect with people from other cities at the turn of a knob. An actual interaction with strategically placed mime artists, portrait artists, hip-hop crews, and other characters, promoted the idea that “Europe is just next door.”

The giant WiFi screens were no doubt pretty costly to set up, but the idea was deceptively cheap for a guerrilla campaign that went viral.

Pandas Invade Paris

In 2008, there were roughly 1,600 wild pandas left in the world. To raise awareness of this horrifying fact, the World Wildlife Foundation had 1,600 paper pandas made and placed them in central Paris.

It was a display that looked cute at first sight but upon closer inspection became very disturbing when  viewers realized that every panda they saw represented the only pandas remaining in the wild. The installation campaign went to other major cities and was talked about for years afterwards. It was another amazing example of a simple idea that marketers took to the streets.

Apple Feeding Free-Range Pigs

Compassion in world farming from shwan hamidi on Vimeo.

The Compassion in World Farming organization designed this amazing guerrilla campaign to highlight cruel farming methods and raise funds. To stress the importance of free-range farming, they placed interactive billboards around shopping centers in London in which shoppers could feed the pigs at a real free-range farm in Buckinghamshire.
To feed the pigs, a £1 donation from shoppers was required so that they could connect their smartphone with the interactive billboard and feed the apple-feeding machine. Participants were able to throw their apples remotely and watch the pigs chase after the apples that they tossed.

The genius campaign was able to interact with 500,000 people over its five-day activation, allowing thousands of Londoners to see and feed the pigs and watch how farm animals should be treated.

People For Smarter Cities

This is definitely a guerrilla marketing idea in the true sense of the word. With a small budget and a sharp idea, ad agency Ogilvy & Mather France, created an IBM ad that talked about smarter cities and smarter solutions.

This was a great way to illustrate IBM as innovators but more as a way to express the need for practical and positive solutions in cities. By making billboards that acted as benches, ramps, and shelters, they were tapping into that idea of guerrilla marketing being something that people could point to and smile at, and in this case, even interact with.

The Worst Breath in the World

Yet another prank by those cheeky French guerrilla marketers at Ogilvy & Mather.  An elaborate set-up prankvertisement was carried-out on the streets of Paris in which a few well-chosen targets were treated to a flash mob display of epic prank proportions.

To highlight the problems of bad breath, the target replies to a simple request for directions and is answered with a mass-fainting by EVERYONE surrounding them. The fainting ripples outward and is captured on a giant video screen that shows people throughout the city losing consciousness from the effect of the targets bad breath. Finally, one of the fainters weakly offers up a Tic Tac and the whole city is revived upon the target eating one.

It’s difficult to understand how this one was pulled off and it’s definitely not one that your average business could organize and execute but the humor, imagination, and downright audacity of the campaign is much to be admired.

Shipping Wars

This prank is the perfect example of corporate guerrilla tactics that elicits a strong reaction and emotional response with a minimal budget. This ad is pure guerrilla and pure cheekiness from the agency, Jung von Matt/Neckar who reputedly created this campaign without the authorization of their client, DHL!

An unbelievably creative and inspired idea, they promoted the key message that “DHL is faster” by punking their competitors with a temperature sensitive package that once hit a certain temperature, revealed the competitor’s message.

Is there anything more effective than getting your competitors to advertise your message for you?

Christmas Miracle

WestJet airline created a Christmas campaign that saw 250 airline guests on two Calgary-bound flights get exactly what they wanted for Christmas. Asked at their departure destination what they wanted for Christmas from an on-screen Santa Clause, they were greeted in the luggage carousel of their destination by their dream gifts.

A simple and idea that involved Calgary WestJet members going from store-to-store to fill up the Christmas passenger gift requests, the campaign went super-viral on social networks and was a beautiful and touching moment for the passengers.

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