Explore the Importance of Guerilla Marketing With Top 5 Examples

Explore the Importance of Guerilla Marketing With Top 5 Examples

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Syed Aquib Ur
Syed Aquib Ur Rahman
Assistant Manager
Updated on Dec 19, 2023 18:37 IST

Discover the power of guerrilla marketing in this insightful blog, uncovering its essence, strategies, and top 5 successful examples. Learn how to engage audiences creatively, stand out in a saturated market, and leverage this cost-effective approach to captivate and inspire your next marketing campaign.

Guerilla marketing

Guerilla marketing is all about igniting instant public attention. It involves hyper creativity, originality, planning, and taking the unconventional path, further from the traditional tactics of marketing

It is one of the best ways to stand out by catching your target audience’s attention by surprise. Highly cost-effective, it creates a snowballing effect of offline interaction done through word-of-mouth. And, it can go viral across social media

So maybe you are planning your next marketing campaign without much spending. 

Find out – 

  1. What is guerilla marketing, exactly?
  2. How does guerilla marketing work?
  3. Importance of guerilla marketing
  4. Top 5 examples of guerilla marketing 

What is Guerilla Marketing, Exactly?

Guerilla marketing is an approach used in advertising that works along the same lines as a shock (or ambush as a tactic common in guerilla warfare). 

Let’s look at the official definition

“Guerrilla marketing is a shape-shifting form of marketing that takes a brand’s messaging and presents it to the desired consumers in a way that is personally engaging and wholly unexpected.”

  • Jonathan Margolis and Patrick Garrigan, Guerilla Marketing for Dummies (2008)

The term was introduced by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1983 book, Guerilla Marketing, where he goes on to describe how small business owners can leverage this type of marketing. 

Related: Digital Marketing Books

How Does Guerilla Marketing Work?

Guerilla marketing follows similar principles to traditional marketing, but the difference lies in the approach of execution. A guerilla marketing strategy looks into opportunities that the audience does not expect. And for that, a lot of planning is required. 

If you draw parallels between both, these are some common aspects 

  1. Determining a highly-targeted demographic
  2. Determining the location where the message will have the most impact
  3. Determining the message to communicate, so that audience is taken aback and engages with it

The idea behind such kind of communication is to change the perception of the target audience. It is to make a direct impact, and preferably motivate and persuade the audience to take an action. 

This philosophy behind guerilla marketing is to provide an intimate connection with the target audience through unexpected means as well. Meaning, it offers intimacy through direct impact and by deconstructing the common approaches of marketing and selling that the audience is already so used to. 

This kind of marketing is all about how the consumer is approached, and creating an experience without any rules, of which, the consumer is fully aware. It breaks conventions to draw attention and has useful benefits which you can read below. 

Importance of Guerilla Marketing

Here are some important reasons why guerilla marketing is necessary for any size of business.

More Creativity Without Affecting Budget

Any size of business can run a guerilla marketing campaign, as long as it can make use of the best of its own resources. Businesses can simply assess their financial standing, the creative resources, and utilise the best of them to their advantage. 

Working around what can be achieved with limited means, but with unlimited creativity and refreshing ideas, are building blocks of an effective guerilla marketing campaign. 

Levinson even differentiates guerilla marketing from traditional marketing. In the book, he highlights 10 differences. Here are a few. 

  • ‘Instead of investing money in the marketing process, you invest time, energy, and imagination’
  • ‘Instead of using guesswork in your marketing, you use the science of psychology, and laws of human behaviour’
  • ‘Instead of encouraging you to advertise, guerilla marketing provides you with 100 different marketing weapons; advertising is only one of them’. 

Best Way to Stand Out in the Saturated Market

With all the digital transformation taking place, traditional media seems to have made a comeback in recent years. Marketers in large companies use both traditional and digital marketing means to have maximum reach. 

Related: Traditional Marketing vs Digital Marketing 

Now, let’s say a brand puts up a billboard in a packed area. Truth be told, it drives passive attention. Every consumer or passer-by today knows what a billboard is. This scenario would have been different in the mid-1900s, when colourful billboards had a mass appeal. 

What guerilla marketing does is that it takes a spin on the same concept. Guerilla marketers replace billboards with more immersive and interactive designs. Ideas such as graffities, treasure hunts, using public spaces in urban cities are some proven ways.  

Top 5 Guerilla Marketing Examples

Here are some well-known and award-winning examples of guerilla marketing campaigns. 

McDonald’s MacFries Pedestrian Crossing

The MacFries Pedestrian Crossing of McDonald’s is one of the most popular examples of a top brand pursuing a guerilla marketing strategy. 

Instead of a billboard, the brand used it as a zebra crossing, where the fries simulate the lines of the cross-walk. This type of street-based guerilla marketing was done during the Züri Fäscht (Zurich Festival) in Switzerland, in 2010. So, anybody crossing the street would instantly feel like visiting the nearest McDonald’s. 

MacFries Pedestrian Crossing

Coca-Cola ‘Happiness Machine’ Campaign

Coca-Cola is well-known for its extensive use of using the message of sharing happiness. The ‘Happiness Machine’ campaign was no different. 

Happiness Machine

The brand installed a Coke vending machine at a college. When students bought a coke, the vending machine would give them a free pizza, sandwich, or a balloon doll, among many others. The idea was to put a smile across everyone’s face. 

Related: Coca-Cola digital marketing strategy

UNICEF Dirty Water Campaign

UNICEF’s campaign on dirty water is one of the best examples of provocative yet effective guerilla marketing. It set up a vending machine at Union Square in New Square that sold different water flavours, referring to different diseases caused by unclean water. 

Dirty Water Campaign

It was to educate New Yorkers about the water crisis and for every $1 donation, UNICEF could provide a child clean drinking water for 40 days. 

Promotion of ‘IT’ Movie 

This Stephen King adaptation was one of the most anticipated movies of 2017. 

IT movie ad campaign Australia

For promotion in Australia, marketers of Village Roadshow Pictures (VRP) distribution house simply tied helium-filled red balloons to sewers across Sydney. This was to showcase that Pennywise the Clown was near. 

Beside them, was the stencilled message of the movie with spray paint. This is also one great example of creativity using low-cost means. 

Similarly, close to the release of the film, a mysterious red balloon appeared across Stephen King’s Bangor mansion in the United States. 

Kong: Skull Island Promotion

Another guerilla marketing example used by marketers of blockbusters is Kong: Skull Island. 

Kong: Skull Island ad campaign LA

Across Los Angeles, there were large footprints of the giant ape and crushed cars. Anybody approaching the made-up, barricaded crime scene would be given t-shirts of the movie and was asked to promote its upcoming release. 

Related: 5 Most Successful Digital Marketing Campaigns in India

Parting Thoughts

So this was about guerilla marketing in a nutshell. Hope this blog inspires you to be creative in your subsequent marketing efforts. Or you can always take up marketing courses no matter which stage of your career you are at.


Is guerilla marketing effective?

It can be. Some expert marketers have claimed that 90% of the total ad spend can be reduced with guerilla marketing. One reason is it instantly draws attention and generates buzz around the brand through word-of-mouth.

What are the disadvantages of guerilla marketing?

Though guerilla marketing is meant to entertain audiences, it has some disadvantages. Since guerilla marketing campaigns are random and rely on the element of surprise, they can be misunderstood. This can damage the brand's reputation to an extent. So if you are putting a lot of planning behind it, it can misfire. Another disadvantage is that it hardly promises any guarantee that the guerilla marketing campaign will work. In terms of time management, it can become a setback.

Is guerilla marketing legal?

Guerilla marketing is not illegal, but in some cases, some campaigns may appear to be. It can be completely fine with authorities if a permit is taken for a public display. However, there have been ethical concerns regarding the harm to children with guerilla marketing tactics at public spaces which can induce fear.

What are the most popular forms of guerilla marketing?

Some of the most common ones are graffiti, making the audience participate with public performance, logos on transport vehicles, and so on.

What are the types of guerilla marketing?

Some of the main types of guerilla marketing are ambush, experiential, undercover, and ambient.

About the Author
Syed Aquib Ur Rahman
Assistant Manager

Aquib is a seasoned wordsmith, having penned countless blogs for Indian and international brands. These days, he's all about digital marketing and core management subjects - not to mention his unwavering commitment ... Read Full Bio