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Guerrilla Advertising: How to Make Your Brand Stand Out

Guerrilla Advertising: How to Make Your Brand Stand Out

Guerrilla advertising (or guerrilla marketing) is a term that describes the process of utilising unconventional and sometimes illegal tactics to generate free publicity for a brand, product, or service. Guerilla marketing can also be a strategy used to increase the awareness of your product or services and can help with your marketing efforts.

I can think of many ways to market a business online. There are many places where you can make your business visible—you can put up a business website, post information about your business on social media, post info about your business to forums, and so on. And I bet you can think of a few more. However, what if you knew you didn't have to spend much money to succeed?

If you were doing all of this marketing, wouldn't you have to spend much money on advertising? Do you have to hire an SEO firm to get your website ranking higher? Wouldn't you have to spend money on Facebook and other social media ads? Do you have to pay Google to get your website to rank higher? And so on.

Well, you don't have to do any of that.

If you are trying to get noticed, you need a marketing strategy. But to make your brand stand out, you need a guerrilla advertising strategy. Guerrilla advertising is a marketing strategy that works at the edge of the mainstream and creates a buzz around your brand and products. It's a marketing strategy that allows you to communicate your message without spending vast amounts of money.

The Origins of Guerrilla Advertising

Guerrilla advertising, also known as guerrilla marketing, is a marketing strategy that relies on unconventional, low-cost, and creative tactics to promote a product, service, or brand. Jay Conrad Levinson initially coined it in his 1984 book “Guerrilla Marketing.” Levinson's inspiration for the term came from guerrilla warfare, which employs unconventional, stealthy, and surprise tactics to defeat a larger, more powerful enemy.

Guerrilla Marketing, 4th Edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your SmallBusiness
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Levinson, Jay Conrad (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 386 Pages – 05/22/2007 (Publication Date) – Harper Business (Publisher)

The origins of guerrilla advertising can be traced back to the early 20th century, with the rise of competitive consumer markets and the need for businesses to find new, cost-effective ways to reach potential customers. Some early examples include movie product placements, undercover marketing agents, and creative stunts in public places. However, the concept gained widespread recognition and popularity following the publication of Levinson's book.

The primary objective of guerrilla advertising is to create a memorable and impactful experience for the target audience, often using a combination of shock, humour, or emotion. The approach has evolved, including tactics like viral marketing, flash mobs, and street art. In the digital age, guerrilla marketing has expanded to include innovative online campaigns, social media engagement, and influencer partnerships.

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The effectiveness of guerrilla advertising is typically measured by its ability to generate buzz, increase brand awareness, and ultimately drive sales or conversions at a relatively low cost. Despite its unconventional nature, guerrilla marketing has been adopted by small and large corporations, proving to be a versatile and powerful tool for capturing attention in an increasingly saturated media landscape.

The Pros and Cons of Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla Marketing Ideas

With its unconventional and often low-cost marketing approach, Guerrilla advertising offers several advantages and disadvantages. Understanding the pros and cons can help businesses determine if this strategy suits their goals and circumstances.


  1. Cost-effective: Guerrilla advertising usually requires a smaller budget than traditional advertising methods. This makes it an attractive option for small businesses and startups with limited resources.
  2. Creativity and innovation: These campaigns often rely on unique, out-of-the-box ideas to capture attention and create a memorable impression. This can help businesses stand out from the competition.
  3. High impact and virality potential: Successful guerrilla advertising campaigns can generate significant buzz, both online and offline, leading to increased brand awareness and, potentially, sales or conversions.
  4. Flexibility: Guerrilla advertising can be tailored to suit various industries, target audiences, and marketing goals. This flexibility allows businesses to adapt their campaigns as needed.
  5. Enhanced customer engagement: Interactive and surprising campaigns can create positive customer experiences, fostering a stronger connection with the brand and increasing the likelihood of word-of-mouth marketing.


  1. Risk of backlash: Some guerrilla advertising tactics may be perceived as intrusive, offensive, or controversial. This can lead to negative publicity and damage the brand's reputation.
  2. Unpredictable results: The success of a guerrilla advertising campaign can be challenging to predict and measure, as it often depends on the public's reaction to the campaign's concept and execution.
  3. Legal and ethical concerns: Some guerrilla advertising tactics, such as unauthorised public installations or aggressive street marketing, may involve legal and ethical risks. Businesses must be mindful of these potential issues when planning their campaigns.
  4. Limited scalability: Guerrilla advertising often relies on localised or niche-targeted campaigns, which may not be suitable for larger businesses seeking to reach a broad audience.
  5. Short-term focus: While guerrilla advertising can generate buzz and attention quickly, its impact may be short-lived. To maintain long-term brand awareness and customer engagement, businesses may need additional marketing strategies.

What Kinds of Guerrilla Marketing  Campaigns Can Be Used?

Guerrilla Marketing Examples Lidl

Many types of guerrilla marketing can be used today. Here are some of the most effective ones:

Radio and Television

One of the most effective forms of guerilla marketing is radio and television. Radio and television stations can promote products and services to an audience of millions of people, which is more cost-effective than other forms of marketing.

TV stations can feature products during commercial breaks or interview companies and ask their employees questions about their products. For example, a company may send a representative to appear on a local TV show to answer a question about a product. This is a great way to get your message across to potential customers who are watching at the same time as you are.

Radio stations can do the same with on-air promotions and interviews or promote products through listener requests. For example, listeners may call in to request an advertiser's product, and the radio station may play a song about the product.

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Television commercials can promote products in other ways. For example, a store may sell items on a television program and then advertise that item on a later show. Another way to promote a product or service is to sell it through a company's website.

This way, the company promotes its products or services online and reaches a potentially huge audience. The key to making this work is ensuring your company's website looks attractive, is easy to navigate, and has much information about your products or services.

Advertising and PR

Another great way to use guerilla marketing is to promote your products or services through advertising and public relations. This includes things like newspapers, magazines, billboards, and flyers.

For example, a magazine might feature your product in an article or write a positive review. Your product could be included in a television or radio commercial. It could even be mentioned in a book.

Public relations is also a great way to promote your products or services. The key here is to create a good relationship with a journalist or writer and to keep that relationship going for a long time.

Once you have established a relationship with a journalist or writer, you can pitch your products or services to them as a story idea.

This is a low-cost and high-reward way of getting your products or services in front of potential customers. You'll be able to tell people about your products or services in a positive light, and they may even mention your company in an article.

Guerrilla Multilevel Marketing: 100 Free and Low-Cost Ways to Get More Network Marketing Leads
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Levinson, Jay (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages – 01/15/2008 (Publication Date) – Warm Snow Publishers (Publisher)

Word of Mouth

The best type of guerilla marketing is word of mouth. This happens when customers tell their friends how much they like your product or service.

This is also known as “being positive.” If your product makes your customers happy, they'll be likelier to share that with their friends.

There are several ways to make this work for you. First, you should always be happy with the quality and service of your products or services. Don't worry; you'll find someone else if you're not.

Second, ensure your website, blog, and other social media sites are regularly updated with relevant information and news. Third, have lots of testimonials on your website and other forms of social media. These testimonials can be short or long; your employees, a third party, or both can write them.

Your employees may write testimonials on your website, while a third party may write testimonials on your behalf. Regardless, this is a great way to build credibility for your company and products.

Regarding word of mouth, remember that the longer, the better. The more your customers like your product or service, the more likely they'll tell their friends.

Guerrilla marketing is one of the oldest forms of marketing, and it's still an effective and low-cost way to get the word out about your business. The best part about guerrilla marketing is that it's easy to do, and you don't need a huge budget.

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The Four Types of Guerrilla Advertising

Guerrilla Marketing Strategy For Movie

As the advertising landscape becomes increasingly saturated, businesses seek new ways to stand out and impact their target audience. Guerrilla advertising has evolved to include various campaigns to engage consumers and generate buzz. Let's explore the four primary types of guerrilla advertising: ambient advertising, experiential marketing, stealth marketing, and viral marketing.

1 – Ambient Advertising

Ambient advertising involves placing ads in unexpected, non-traditional locations to surprise and engage viewers. This type of guerrilla advertising aims to create a memorable impression by integrating the ad seamlessly into the environment, often using elements of humour or surprise. Examples include:

  • Creatively designed billboards.
  • Advertisements on public transportation.
  • Ads in unconventional spaces like bathroom stalls or elevator floors.

Ambient advertising has the advantage of breaking through the clutter of traditional advertising spaces, capturing the audience's attention, and fostering a special connection with the brand.

2 – Experiential Marketing

Experiential marketing, also known as event marketing or live marketing, focuses on creating immersive, interactive experiences that engage consumers and encourage them to connect with the brand on a deeper level. This type of guerrilla advertising can include product demonstrations, pop-up stores, interactive installations, or public stunts. Experiential marketing campaigns are designed to be participatory, allowing consumers to experience the brand's values, products, or services firsthand. These immersive experiences can create positive associations, generate word-of-mouth marketing, and foster consumer brand loyalty.

3 – Stealth Marketing

Stealth marketing, sometimes called undercover marketing, is guerrilla advertising that relies on covert tactics to promote a product, service, or brand without the consumer's awareness that they are being marketed to. This approach can include product placements in movies or television shows, undercover marketing agents posing as consumers, or sponsored content disguised as editorial content. Stealth marketing can effectively reach consumers who are resistant to traditional advertising or sceptical of marketing messages. However, this approach carries ethical and legal risks, as it can be seen as deceptive or manipulative. Businesses should carefully consider these potential issues when planning stealth marketing campaigns.

4 – Viral Marketing

Viral marketing uses digital platforms, such as social media or online video-sharing sites, to create and spread content that generates significant interest and sharing among consumers. This type of guerrilla advertising relies on the power of the internet and social networks to amplify the reach of a campaign, often at a relatively low cost. Viral marketing campaigns can include shareable videos, memes, interactive websites, or online challenges. The key to successful viral marketing is creating engaging, entertaining, or emotionally resonant content, encouraging consumers to share it with their networks and extending the campaign's reach.

Guerrilla Marketing Volume 1: Advertising and Marketing Definitions, Ideas, Tactics, Examples, and Campaigns to Inspire Your Business Success
  • Levinson, Jay Conrad (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 436 Pages – 01/04/2022 (Publication Date) – Morgan James Publishing (Publisher)

Best Examples of Guerrilla Advertising

1 – Ambient Advertising: Ikea's Subway Makeover

In 2008, Ikea transformed an entire subway car in Japan into a cosy, furnished living space. The campaign showcased the brand's affordable and stylish furniture while surprising and delighting commuters. The unconventional advertising space allowed Ikea to break through the clutter of traditional advertising, create a memorable impression, and generate significant media coverage. This campaign's estimated cost was relatively low, considering the impact it formed, making it an excellent example of effective ambient advertising.

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Ikea Guerrilla Advertising Example

2 – Experiential Marketing: Red Bull's Stratos Jump

In 2012, Red Bull sponsored the Stratos Jump, an event in which Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumped from a helium balloon at an altitude of 128,100 feet, breaking the world record for the highest free-fall parachute jump. The event was streamed live on YouTube and garnered over 9.5 million concurrent viewers, making it one of the most-watched live events in history. Red Bull's experiential marketing campaign generated global media coverage and social media buzz and reinforced the brand's association with extreme sports and daring feats. The campaign's estimated cost was $30 million, but the return on investment regarding brand exposure and increased sales was estimated to be far more significant.

3 – Marketing: Sony Ericsson's Fake Tourists

In 2002, Sony Ericsson employed stealth marketing tactics to promote its new T68i camera phone. The company hired actors to pose as tourists in major cities, asking passersby to take their photos with the new phone. The unsuspecting participants were then briefly introduced to the phone's features. The campaign aimed to generate word-of-mouth marketing and product familiarity without the recipients realising they were being marketed to. Although the exact cost of the campaign was not disclosed, it was presumably low compared to traditional advertising methods. The T68i became one of Sony Ericsson's best-selling models at the time, demonstrating the effectiveness of stealth marketing in some instances.

4 – Viral Marketing: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which took place in 2014, was a viral marketing campaign that raised awareness and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research. Participants were challenged to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads, share the video on social media, and nominate others to do the same or donate to an ALS charity. The campaign quickly gained momentum, with celebrities, athletes, and influencers participating and encouraging their followers to do the same. The Ice Bucket Challenge raised over $115 million for the ALS Association in just eight weeks (source: ALS Association), illustrating the power of viral marketing to generate significant results with minimal investment.

Icebucket Challenge


As a marketer, you can be creative with your guerrilla advertising. It's the perfect tool to increase awareness for your brand or product. In other words, it's the ideal tool to start building a personal brand.

As you can see, there are many different ways to market online. When you're ready to start making money, you must pick one or more right strategies.

There are a ton of different platforms, so feel encouraged if you find one that fits you perfectly. Just keep trying other things until you find what works best for you.

Last update on 2024-07-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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