Did anyone else panic because of the Tubi commercial during the SuperBowl this year? As a Philly fan in a room full of die-hard Eagles fans, it was a stressful 15-seconds!

This is just one recent example of effective guerrilla marketing. I mean who decides to pull a prank like that on 113 million people during a nail biting game!? Thanks Tubi…

Guerrilla marketing is no walk in the park. Some of the best guerrilla campaigns in recent years were extremely sophisticated, synchronized efforts that made use of outdoor, print, digital, interactive, social, mobile, and even on-ground activities. Woof…

Some of these campaigns are omnichannel and have a dedicated website, app, and digital resources to assist. However, an omnichannel guerrilla campaign requires time, effort, and of course, huge budgets. This is why it is very important to get your campaign right the first time, pro or not.

While clever guerrilla campaigns need clever people to create them, the key really is consistency. This is achieved through using ingenious tools and judicious processes. Read on for guerrilla marketing advice and a few examples to help inspire you.

Quick Takeaways: 

  • Creativity is key. More of the same won’t break through the noise of advertisements today.
  • Don’t fall victim to a gut reaction. Stay in-tune with what’s going on in the world to avoid being #canceled.
  • Unify your team with collaborative platforms to ensure everyone has a voice from conception to completion.

What Is Guerrilla Marketing?

First things first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page. Guerrilla marketing is a form of marketing that surprises and shocks consumers in unconventional ways. It’s a form of extreme marketing that is meant to leave a lasting effect.

This is why guerrilla marketing can be so tricky. When done well, it’s an extremely valuable asset. But done poorly, it can cause headaches for every branch of your company.

So how do you avoid the latter and create a guerrilla marketing campaign that shines? Let’s get into it.

Listen To Your Gut, But…

In this day and age where marketers are using numbers, platform-specific predictive analytics, detailed research, and big data mining tools to understand if a campaign will work or not, it would be unwise to trust your instincts all the time. All in all, listen to your gut, but with a pinch of spice.

Marketers today have a plethora of tools ranging from social listening to sentiment analysis, from data analytics to competitor research. These tools help you predict scenarios and form a big picture – from how your customers would react to the campaign to what the impact on revenue would look like, thus helping you avoid campaign disasters.

And don’t forget that personalization is the icing on the big data cake. A multi-channel campaign optimization tool like Monetate will help you segment your audience on the basis of visitor characteristics and buyer behavior, and deliver personalized content and product recommendations through your website as well as email.

Encourage Creative Thinking

Traditionally, creative directors dream up the whole campaign, while planners, copywriters, graphics artists and media buyers carry out instructions to the letter. Times are a-changing thought, and the new way to do this is to involve everyone from data scientists to account managers in the creative thinking process.

Consider using  a mind-mapping tool, like XMind, to encourage creative thinking.

Tools like this encourage team members to think creatively all the time, do SWOT analysis for ideas, define campaign processes, and reach decisions based on consensus.

Take a 360-Degree View

Drew Neisser, CEO of Renegade Marketing, claimed that the success of guerrilla marketing lies in taking a 360-degree view – imagining all the ways your idea can come to life. According to Neisser, it helps to imagine every little detail, such as “the story headline you’d like to see, the tweets you’d like to read, the photos you’d like to be taken and YouTube videos that you’d want to view.”

This advice is especially important as sometimes even low-budget stunts can cause huge losses. For instance, in 2007 Cartoon Network set out blinking appartices in 10 cities across the states to promote Aqua Teen Hunger Force. One on-looker in Boston thought the device was an explosive, and the city ushered in their bomb-squad and basically shut the whole city down. Cartoon Network ended up on-the-hook for $2 million for the emergency response.

Which leads us to an important point – know what’s happening out there.

Keep Your Team Talking

A lot goes behind the scenes in planning a guerrilla campaign. From your art director to copywriter through to sales person, everyone might have some insights that can help in the campaign. However, looking at how most agencies work, it is difficult to get everyone onboard and contributing ideas or opinions at critical moments. This is where standardization of communication becomes important.

Slack is a hot favorite these days at lean startups, with remote workers being always connected using multiple devices. However, for a serious marketing campaign, a “collaboration tool” is not enough; task allocation and scheduling become significantly more important, and the need for project management software presents itself. For example, WorkZone is a not-too-heavy, not-too-basic solution that allows team members to leave notes, annotate documents, highlight and comment on pictures and take the execution of time-intensive marketing campaigns to the next level.

WorkZone's image markup capabilities

Be Disruptive From Start To End

If you are creating a disruptive campaign, make sure its PR is just as disruptive.

For instance, the Hereditary PR team created dozens of creepy dolls and surprised attendees of its first midnight screening with them the morning after viewing…

These attendees weren’t just your average joe’s but film critics and directors with movie-buff followers. The eye-catching dolls and ominous note, plus a good review from a movie critic is enough to get anyone curious.

Take it Online to Prove ROI

If you want to convince your clients or directors who hold the purse strings, then you may have to prove the ROI of your campaign. The ROI of finding how many people saw a thousand papier mâché pandas, became aware of the issue, and took a concrete action is nigh impossible. However, research has shown that guerrilla marketing recall tends to be near-100 percent as opposed to traditional advertising, which has a recall of 33 percent.

In order to prove the ROI of your campaign, you need to resort to viral marketing. Disruptive content and guerrilla campaigns do exceptionally well on social media, so if you want to prove the success of your campaign, whether it is street art or an event, take it online.

Once your campaign has “gone digital” every conversation, every trend becomes trackable. Social media monitoring and analytics tools such as Brandwatch make it easy to gather customer feedback, analyze sentiment, discover influencers, and even identify potential crises before they unfold.

5 Examples of Guerilla Marketing to Inspire

Tubi Super Bowl Commercial 2023

As a native Philadelphian, the 2023 Super Bowl was a huge event for me, my family and every one of my friends. Not to mention the 113 million other people watching! This is when Tubi, a free content streaming service from Fox, decided to fool everyone with their 15-second heart-stopping commercial.

The commercial featured the 2023 Fox Super Bowl announcers, interrupted by what seemed like a remote changing channel to Tubi! Sports fans everywhere screamed, and talked about it for days to come. Needless to say the tricky ad worked, and Tubi’s search trend skyrocketed that night. If Tubi wasn’t a household name before, it is now.

IHOP becomes IHOb

In 2018 IHOP announced on Twitter that they’d be changing the P in their name to a B, alluding that it meant a big change for the company.

ihop announces name change to ihob but viewers have to wait to find out what the B stands for

Image Source: SFGate

The announcement drummed up a lot of speculation as to what the B meant.. Was it Beyonce, bitcoin, bacon, breakfast?

People everywhere were guessing, praising and criticizing the chain’s decision to change their name, even though it was only temporary. Some thought, why fix what isn’t broken? And why would they want to taint their image? These doubters were wrong.

The chain’s hamburger sales ended up quadrupling after the temporary name change, so it’s safe to say this guerilla tactic worked.


fiji water model photobombing A-list celebrities

Image Source: Vanity Fair

The 2019 Golden Globe awards had an unexpected star of the night – a paid promotional model. Fiji water enlisted a few models to hand out water bottles to thirsty celebrities aaaand photobomb a few as well. One model, Kelly Steinbeich, excelled at this job and ended up in the background of a dozen A-list runway pictures.

She ended up being the hot-topic of the golden globes online. Her images also drummed up the equivalent of $12 million of paid advertising. A huge win for the water company.

Burrito Baby Shower Gift from Chipotle

When a baby was born in a chipotle parking lot in 2018, the company acted fast. Baby Jalen’s parents were on their way to the hospital when mom, Adrianna Alvarez, decided they weren’t going to make it. Jalen became “the chipotle baby.”

chipotle themed baby shower cake

Image Source: PopSugar

Chipotle invited everyone involved in the incident back to the restaurant for a burrito themed baby shower that made news and spread on social media quickly, as feel good stories often do.

Meat is Murder Campaign from PETA

Peta is on the A-list when it comes to guerilla marketing campaigns. The company is seen utilizing publish displays of action quite often. One example is their ‘Meat is Murder’ campaign from 2019, a day ahead of National Vegan day.

PETA meat is murder cmpaign featuring 'bloody' humans in animal shaped outlines

Image Source: PETAIndia

PETA volunteers lay in the street ‘dead’ in the outlines of animal shapes. The goal, as always, to persuade people not to eat animal meat.

Final Words

Guerrilla marketing is truly a gamble. It could become a viral hit in the industry or drown in the abyss of bad campaigns. It could grab eyeballs or make people roll their eyes with disgust. It could cost close to nothing or almost everything, including your reputation.

This is why it is very important you take the highest possible care right from conception through execution and PR to protect your brand at all stages.

If you’re a marketer reading this, I hope what we discussed here helps you in some small way to deliver the best campaign the world has seen so far, because honestly, I am the biggest guerrilla marketing fan ever!


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