1. Threat Level: Aqua
In the winter of 2007, the Cartoon Network created a marketing stunt that perked the ears of not only millions of people, but the FBI. The marketing promotion for the network’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” featured a backpack-sized, battery-powered device with wires and light studding its facade promoting the late-night cartoon strategically placed throughout populated areas in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Unfortunately, people took this deft marketing ploy as a threat to national security, raising the concern of emergency crews, federal agents, bomb squads, hundreds of police and the U.S. Coast Guard. Manpower, time, and money were devoted to protecting the city from a suspected terrorist threat that turned out to be nothing more than a marketing ploy. This marketing tactic generated a serious scare but nonetheless created a huge buzz for the this late-night cartoon from coast to coast.
2. Promoting Cellphone sales with a No-Coverage Area
During the 2002 Bledisloe Cup, a major rugby event in Austraila, two streakers blasted onto the field of a high-profile rugby match wearing nothing but a Vodafone logo painted on their backs. Admittedly, streaking at a sports event isn’t exactly uncommon, but sponsored striking very much is. The fact that the match was held in Telstra Stadium- Telstra being Vodafone’s competitor. This extreme, controversial and questionably illegal marketing stunt was viewed by the thousands of fans present at the cup, and thousands more through international media coverage. Millions of television viewers witnessed the streaking event, and it was covered everywhere from CNN to the front page of the The London Times and rang in the endorsement.
3. A Roof Over Their Heads
An international humanitarian organization called Médecins du Monde (link to: http://www.medecinsdumonde.org/), aimed to offer care for destitute populations pulled one of the most clever and altruistic grassroots marketing efforts in 2005 when the group staged a campaign to draw attention to the issue of homelessness in Paris. Nicknamed the “tent city”, the organization apportioned hundreds of tents to vagrant Parisians. Hundreds of homeless gathered along a area along Parisian canals. The quickly fashioned shelter, which carried the Médecins du Monde logo, drew immediate attention to the issue of homelessness and aroused such vast public clamor that the the city of Paris was forced to act. In result, the French government immediately allocated nearly $10 million for emergency housing in Paris, proving to be one of the most effective and benevolent guerrilla marketing campaigns in the world to date.
4. King Ronald
In 2005, Burger King implemented a guerilla marketing campaign to increase their burger sales in Asia by alluring more consumers into Burger King restaurants. Burger King promoters decided to target their number one beefy competitor, McDonald’s by strategically placing branded Burger King items by placing. Burger King t-shirts on Ronald McDonald statues, planting large footprints from McDonald’s to Burger King, and putting signs on empty benches that read “Gone to BK — Ronald.” Though a bit abrasive and cut-throat, this guerrilla marketing technique rendered attention of Asian consumers… and ultimately was extremely successful.
5. RidING for Free
ING Direct initiated guerrilla campaigns to promote their new “Orange” online banking solutions (link to: http://home.ingdirect.com/) a few years back. They diverged from traditional marketing efforts in the metropolitan regions of Boston, San Francisco and Washington D.C. by creating a buzz by offering free rides around metro areas. To promote the new “Orange” service, this marketing savvy financial institution sponsored rides on public transportation networks all over metro areas. Within the buses and trains orange-suited brand ambassadors leafleted passengers with promotional materials… and to put icing on the cake, ING placed ads in metro subway cars and on the sides of buses with their tangerine ambassadors. The event captured the attention of immediate prospects and generated extensive media coverage.
6. Di*sel is no longer a dirty word
Another very popular form of guerrilla marketing is “reverse graffiti”, a technique where marketers literally paint the streets with subversive imagery. Difficult to execute, and sometimes controversial this form of guerrilla marketing can be extremely successful because it catches the eye of hundreds of potential consumers, plus gets the grassroots communication ball rollin’. A prime example of successful reverse graffitti is with the high-end automotive company, Audi, was trying to promote their clean diesel engines. Audi painted the streets with messaging that read,”Di*sel is no longer a dirty word” around selected streets in metropolitan areas.
7. Spread Firefox
The tiny nonprofit web-browser Mozilla Corp., who has captured nearly a quarter of the web-browsing market employs grassroots marketing at its finest. This innovative company uses 100 percent organic marketing techniques (similar to Google) to promote their fast-growing tech service. At the middle of Firefox’s marketing efforts is SpreadFirefox.com, a digital hub for the Firefox community and all of its related marketing activities. There are three core components here. Mozilla has set up a community forum where users can participate in projects and chat with others via message boards providing seamless customer service capabilities; they can contribute by becoming part of their global project of spreading the world about the business worldwide.
8. Lost Cats and Kias
Kia, a thrifty automobile corporation took from old-school marketing techniques when they executed their recent “spend less” campaign. In the campaign, KIA marketers literally “took it to the streets” when they posted thousands of fliers in metro areas with tear-away messaging about their “spend less” campaign. This campaign was proven effective as it was unique (usually fliers are limited to missing cats and rental opportuntites)… plus it got a high-five from marketing gurus across the world. What a great idea?!
9. Andre the Giant Has A Posse
Most marketing ploys are created to promote a product, but in some cases they can represent a cultural ideal. A prime example is the “Andre the Giant has a Posse” campaign. As racy as it is pervasive, the “Obey Giant” grassroots campaign began when a Rhode Island art student crafted a handful of stickers and started putting them up around Providence. Mirroring European propaganda posters, the stickers showed imagery of the professional wrestler Andre “The Giant” plus marketing messages that read “Obey” and “Andre the Giant Has A Posse.” The stickers’ message was unclear –and the artist accidentally created this guerrilla marketing campaign, marketing strategists applauded this for its portrayal of how marketing can sometimes be an accident. The stickers spread underground to major metropolitan areas and within a few years all over the world. The stickers are hip and cryptic, and they capitalize on the fact that most people think it’s cool to be part of something not everyone understands. These stickers force you to think… as the message is not easy to understand.
10. The Red Bull Pit Stop
Red Bull, known in the industry for grassroots and guerrilla marketing, recently executed a marketing stunt in Times Square in NYC with a NASCAR-style pit stop. Combating for the attention of New Yorkers is a struggle with the thousands of billboards, street signs and cacophony, but Red Bull’s sample session in the middle of Time Square turned out to be huge success.