5 Unconventional ways to stand out in an Ad-heavy world

March 24, 2023

At the beginning of the year, do you remember this marketing campaign by Zomato & Blinkit? It caught the attention of other brands, too (including Growthschool). Many brands jumped on the bandwagon, which in turn gave zomato a lot of attention.  This unconventional marketing campaign is an example of guerrilla marketing. Let’s understand guerrilla marketing in a bit more detail. 

Courtesy: Zomato and Blinkit

The term guerrilla marketing comes from guerrilla warfare which comprises a smaller army attacking a larger enemy by ambush or surprise. Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy focusing on low-cost unconventional marketing tactics that yield maximum results. It is a marketing technique that is designed to be unexpected and unconventional.

The key to a successful guerrilla marketing campaign is to do something surprising which can interrupt your prospective audience and force them to take notice of your message.  Let’s look at different guerrilla marketing tactics and some examples of such campaigns. 

🧐 Ambient Marketing

Ambient Marketing involves placing advertisements in unconventional locations or everyday objects to attract the target audience's attention. It is a form of advertising designed to be creative and original. It often involves using elements of the environment to send an advertising message in a non-intrusive way.

A great example of this tactic is the marketing campaign of Mr. Clean - which is a cleaning product brand. The team repainted one line of a zebra crossing with a fresh coat of paint and added the Mr. Clean mascot at the bottom. A great way to recall the brand and use the ambient discoloured zebra crossing to draw attention. 

Courtesy: Mr Clean

😌 Experiential Marketing

In this tactic, you create experiences where your customers engage with you in lifelike circumstances. The goal is to prove to their target audience what you represent and not merely what you have to offer. For experiential marketing campaigns to be successful, they must be strategically planned. These campaigns must be fun, attractive and heartwarming so that a target audience would be curious to engage.

The best example of this is Coca-Cola's “happiness” campaign, where they installed vending machines in New Delhi and Lahore. People could interact with their counterparts in the other city via video screen and were asked to do a bunch of tasks to win a free coke from the machine. Bringing people together and happiness as a brand message really resonated well in this campaign. 

💪 Ambush Marketing

In this tactic, you try to tag along with another event associated with a big brand. You either name the competitor brand directly or subtly refer to its primary features and establish your message.

A great example of this is the sarcastic print ad Wakefit ran welcoming Ikea to the city. In an extended version of the ad, they mention that the wakefit stores are within the city and not on the outskirts (as Ikea’s) and highlight the traffic woes too. 

 🥷 Stealth Marketing

You run a campaign without letting others know you run a campaign. It primarily increases customers' curiosity and makes them receptive to a future direct campaign rather than immediately getting results or sales. Covert placement is critical for such campaigns.

Red bull in the 1980s went around London, putting empty red bull cans in trash cans and around nightclubs in plenty, giving the illusion of popularity and the customers curious about the brand.

💡 Buzz Marketing

In this tactic, you create advertising campaigns which have no relation to the actual product but create tremendous buzz and awareness of the brand. This is done with unconventional or surprising ads that make people take notice.

For example, look at the CRED’s IPL campaign with Rahul Dravid. The ad was unconventional and had nothing to do with the app’s features of the product. It was entertaining and created much buzz with the memes around it. Even Amul picked it up for their billboards. :)

Courtesy: Amul via Indian Express

Tips for creating a successful campaign

1. Don’t put the brand's interests above the customers’ while crafting the campaign. Know your core audience interests while crafting the campaign - where your audience hangs out, what they do etc.

2. Have some call to action (a coupon code, QR scan, etc) so that you can later check the ROI of the campaign. One of the significant challenges of a guerrilla marketing campaign is that it is difficult to track its performance.

3. Research. Research. Research. Study your competitors’ tactics (don’t copy them directly) along with a good understanding of your users’ likes. Don’t go in blind.

4. Make it entertaining, and introduce an element of surprise to awe your audience. Be original. Without surprise, it is not a guerilla marketing campaign.

5. Don’t focus on going only viral and neglect the other aspects. Aim to add value to your audience first. Virality can come later.

Did you know?

Embedding GIFs or a good number of emojis in your emails or in-app notifications will reduce unsubscribes and increase time spent in the app (by approx 19%). Don’t use GIFs and emojis in the same message or use too many emojis. Also, emojis must be relevant to your messaging.

Source: Bashirzadeh, Y., Mai, R., & Faure, C. (June 2021). How rich is too rich? Visual design elements in digital marketing communications. International Journal of Research in Marketing.

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