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When Guerrilla Marketing Goes Wrong

18 Jun, 2015 Dustin Cederholm


Guerrilla marketing can be a great idea. Many unique and amazing ideas have been born from it. However, if it’s not done correctly, there can be mistakes. Below are a few tips and examples for making sure guerrilla marketing goes right.


1. Make sure it’s legal.


Make sure to do extensive research and to make sure there are no possible legal issues with your guerrilla marketing campaign. Little things can often be overlooked in the planning stages, but it is essential to make sure you don’t run into any legal roadblocks.


Example: ADT


Guerrilla Marketing | Fluid Advertising


This may not have been explicitly illegal, but it definitely had a lot of people worried. ADT placed special boxes under people’s doors in Chile that would pop up when pushed through to the other side. It was meant to highlight the dangers of home invasion. Many people were very worried, and while it was a good idea and generated a lot of publicity, it probably wasn’t all good publicity.


2. Make sure it’s not insensitive.


Guerrilla marketing campaigns are all about creating something bold, fresh, and new. To make something viral, it has to be interesting and something people would want to share and be a part of. However, there is a line. You want to be edgy, but not insensitive. If you cross the line, then you may gain publicity, but it will be for all the wrong reasons.


Example: Forgetting Sarah Marshall


Guerrilla Marketing | Fluid Advertising


For the movie release of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, various pieces of graffiti and street art with phrases such as “You suck, Sarah Marshall!” were placed around. Unfortunately, the movie producers didn’t think of the fact that there are real people actually named Sarah Marshall. Responses ranged from frustration to retaliation with similar signs. It’s fair to say that this wasn’t the reaction they wanted.


3. Make sure it’s possible/practical


Many grand ideas are developed for guerrilla marketing campaigns, and many of these ideas have been executed very well. However, you have to do the proper research and make sure your idea can be fulfilled. Make sure it is scalable and that your idea translates to a very large audience.


Example: Snapple


Guerrilla Marketing | Fluid Advertising


To promote its new line of frozen treats, Snapple created the world’s largest popsicle. It was placed in Times Square. Unfortunately, the popsicle melted much quicker than expected, and Times Square was flooded with a huge sticky mess. Sure, Snapple got some good publicity, but their campaign didn’t end up being possible.


4.Make sure it will have the intended impact.

It’s easy for a marketing company to envision what the reaction to their guerrilla campaign will be, but that doesn’t mean it will play out that way. It’s very important to do the proper research, focus groups, etc. to make sure your audience will respond in the way you intend.

Example: Sony


Guerrilla Marketing | Fluid Advertising


To promote their new product, Sony commissioned street artists to paint graffiti advertisements around urban areas. They were trying to connect with the younger generation. However, the message didn’t resonant with their target, causing youth to deface the ads and for adults to protest the “graffiti.”


Guerrilla marketing can be a very good thing for a business. However, it is very important to consider all variables of your advertisement. If you do anything wrong, it can turn all the possible good publicity into bad publicity. Keep these four tips in mind, and you’re less likely to go astray.

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