Go Bananas! Win Attention for Good With Guerrilla Marketing

For a populace inundated by digital ads, television ads and print ads, guerrilla marketing stands out immediately. If it’s creative and fresh, it stands out even more. For those unafraid to think creatively there are innumerable possibilities for on-the-ground, real-life, super-creative marketing campaigns.

Due to their memorable impact, low budget requirements (relative to traditional ad and marketing buys) and reliance on imagination, guerrilla marketing tactics present a democratic opportunity for innovative marketers to make waves. This relatively low-cost / high-impact combo is especially useful for purpose-driven companies determined to capture attention for their mission.

Read on to learn why guerrilla marketing makes sense for social enterprises and how you might use this approach to capture attention for your Purpose and your company.

A Good Fit

It’s natural for social businesses like B Corps to embrace guerrilla marketing methods for several reasons:

Guerrilla campaigns tend to involve the audience more fully in the story being told. Because for-benefit businesses adopt conscientious business practices to do good things for humanity as a whole, it makes sense to communicate in a way that authentically connects with and includes the audience.

Since they usually involve physically doing something in the real world, guerrilla campaigns are a natural choice for conscious businesses concerned with the impact of their operations in their local communities. They can also give consumers a way to take action on an issue or take a step in the right direction.

Inventive approaches like guerrilla marketing speak to the creative way that triple bottom line companies experiment with the variables of commerce to do right by people and the planet. It’s fitting for businesses suggesting new approaches to doing business to use new approaches to marketing and advertising as well.

Depending on the nature of the campaign, guerrilla tactics allow companies to make real on-the-ground impact in a way that presents many possibilities for mission-driven marketing.

Intrigued? Read on to see some of my favorite cause-focused guerrilla marketing campaigns. While the campaigns below primarily promote nonprofit initiatives, there’s no reason for-benefit businesses can’t employ the same tactics to get people involved in the causes they support [Click to Tweet!]. Once you capture attention for the cause, you can share how buying from your company gives customers an immediate way to take action. For example, you might draw attention to the plight of refugees and then convey how buying from your brand supports the employment of refugees resettling in the U.S.

The subject matter of these campaigns may span issues as diverse as dog adoption and litter, but they all demonstrate how impactful real-life guerrilla tactics can be in communicating on behalf of a social Purpose.

If you aren’t exactly sure what your Purpose is, check out our resource Purpose First: A Guide to Discovering + Defining Your Company’s Differentiator. It will help you go through the process of defining your Purpose so you can start using it to amplify your positive impact and galvanize your customer community.

1. Any Women Can Be a Victim of Breast Cancer

J. Walter Thompson for A.C. Camargo Cancer Center

In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the locals turn to graffiti as means of personal expression and organizational messaging. A. C. Camargo Cancer Center and JWT Brazil embraced this popular form of expression when they launched Tinta contra o cancer (“Paint against cancer”), a street-smart campaign encouraging women to monitor themselves for signs of breast cancer. Graffiti artists agreed to allow the female nudes in their art to undergo visual mastectomies next to the tagline which reads, translated, “Any woman can be a victim of breast cancer.”

This campaign celebrates breast cancer survivors by visually representing their reality. It works well as a guerrilla marketing campaign because it invades the spaces people already occupy, figuratively hijacking images with which they’re familiar and transforming them. This act mimics the shocking intrusion of an unexpected disease and so its call for vigilance is taken seriously – these things happen, so don’t be caught by surprise. The method brings home the message and encourages people to act.

Consider how your brand’s message might be more powerful and personally relevant to your audience if it transformed the familiar or appeared in an unexpected place. How can the element of surprise bring your message home?

 2. Big Brother is Always Watching…You Litter

Ogilvy & Mather, China for Hong Kong Clean Up Initiative by Ecozine and The Nature Conservancy

This project takes Big Brother to a new, even creepier level! The Face of Litter uses the latest advances in forensic science to recreate the faces of people who litter by grabbing their DNA from used coffee cups, cigarette butts and condoms.

This campaign tests the boundaries of personal privacy, but it does so to connect an individual’s personal choices and private waste to the collective whole they impact. If you’re putting your stuff out there, you personally are tarnishing the environment that everyone shares. The presentation is reminiscent of a “wanted” poster that condemns a criminal. In this case, the perpetrator is committing a crime against society as a whole.

While this approach is controversial, imagine the concept somehow applied to human traffickers or poachers worldwide. Because of its hyper locality, this particular guerrilla campaign threatens the sense of anonymity that those making lazy, environmentally harmful choices enjoy. By bringing the audience directly into the advertisements, it tells the viewer that littering isn’t a private matter – it’s a public transgression.

Consider ways you might directly involve individuals in your message to magnify its impact and resonance. Is there a way to mimic this tactic digitally? What would happen if you recognized individuals for doing good things?

3. Elsa Was Wrong …Don’t “Let it Go”

City of San Francisco; City of St. Pauli, Germany

Oh yes they did—in two places, actually. In a world where a desire for convenience and an emphasis on personal needs engender a disregard for the faceless “public,” two cities decided to take action. Through the Pee Back Project, city institutions created a consequence for those who urinate on public buildings by applying a superhydrophobic coating to their walls. When [usually inebriated] passersby attempt to urinate on one of the coated walls, the urine is repelled back onto the perpetrator’s shoes and pants.

This particular project teaches those it involves that consideration should take precedence over convenience and impulsive action. Thought—even in the haziest of situations—is necessary to maintain some semblance of structure. “Be kind to your fellow man,” and the city you call home, is the clear moral of the story. Also, if you think it’s gross to have pee on you, why would it be okay to put the very same pee on buildings?

Get Pegable blog posts sent right to your inbox for ideas, advice and resources on activating your company’s Purpose.

How can you use creative marketing to educate people about the impact of their actions? Does ignoring a certain truth deserve consequences in the context of your business?

4. Being Followed is an Act of Love

Bettersea Dogs & Cats; Westfield Stratford City, United Kingdom

Don’t worry, this isn’t about creepy stalkers – it’s about animal safety and housing! The #LookingForYou campaign communicates that dogs offer the qualities we all want in a furry friend —companionship, persistence and undying love. People at an outdoor mall are singled out and followed by a virtual dog across screens throughout the premises, being urged all the while to give in to the overpowering cuteness and adopt an animal.

This campaign demonstrates just how much we as people overlook the loneliness and suffering of others, especially those who can’t speak up for themselves. With its persistence, it refuses to let its audience ignore the suffering of the dogs and makes a case for pet adoption by promising loyalty and companionship.

How might you infuse your campaigns with tenacity? If your company is purpose-driven, there is probably some unfortunate truth to which you want to bring attention. How can you communicate the persistence of the problem to your audience?

5. Sleep Does Wonders for Your Health

Ogilvy & Mather for Geometry Global, Japan

Sleeping Drunks is a Japanese campaign that highlights the problem of public drunkenness. By using the tactic of “drunk shaming,” bar chain Yaocho attempts to embarrass public drunkards into practicing a healthier way of life. Not unlike The Face of Litter, this is a somewhat abrasive approach that uses real people as examples of what not to do to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

By encouraging passersby to share #Nomisugi (TOO DRUNK) with pictures of the makeshift “billboards,” the campaign portrays those who engage in excessive drinking as deserving of judgment and shame, which is particularly poignant in Japanese society where honor is of paramount importance.

How might you use the concept of labeling to help people see certain acts or products in a new way? Can it reinforce – or even change – certain beliefs?

6. Take a Deep Breath

Y&R Shanghai for Xiao Zhu

It’s no secret that China has been fighting pollution issues over the past several decades with fervor, and the Breathe Again project reiterates the importance of this global environmental initiative. The campaign conveys the severity of the problem and its dire consequences by juxtaposing images of children, who are often at the greatest risk from air pollutants, over the airborne pollutants of a number of factories throughout China.

In their treatment of workers and the environment, many large companies seem to argue that the welfare of an individual is less important than large-scale money-making operations. This campaign forces those running these factories to confront the damage being done. It unapologetically illustrates the cause-effect relationship in this scenario, and forces the “many” to answer for what is happening to the individual.

How might you creatively link cause and effect in your corner of the world? How can you help people see connections that aren’t immediately apparent?

I hope that these examples of guerrilla marketing have you thinking about unusual ways you can tell your stories to connect more deeply with your customers. Do you know of any more inspiring guerrilla marketing campaigns? Share a link below or let us know via tweet @RoundPegComm.

Want more marketing inspiration? Sign up to get Pegable blog posts sent right to your inbox for ideas, advice and resources on activating your company’s Purpose.

As RoundPeg’s graphic designer, Kiana puts her skills to work on websites, print ads, signs and other things we don’t have space to list. She loves elephants, fears sock monkeys and is almost fully conversant in Thai. Kiana hopes for a world where people use honesty and positivity to overcome cultural differences and achieve mutual understanding. She also makes delicious cookies. Learn more about Kiana

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