Your Complete Guide to Guerilla Marketing: Definition, Types and Examples

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Marketers are always looking for ways to stand out from the competition since customers are craving new and unique marketing tactics.

With the competition getting tougher, it’s very difficult to catch people’s eyes. In addition to this, other businesses, especially small businesses and start-ups, have financial restraints in their marketing campaigns.

So if you’re looking for out-of-this-world marketing that will surely attract people’s attention with the least amount of money required, then Guerrilla Marketing is the perfect fit for you.

Guerilla Marketing Definition

According to Investopedia, “Guerilla Marketing is a marketing strategy in which a company uses unconventional means to promote a product or service.” It is also often referred to as “ambush marketing” as it is unconsented, unexpected, and unusual.

As the name suggests, marketers who use this strategy tend to create disturbances that will surprise and pique the interest of spectators. Making these spectators talk about a product or an organization. Aside from talking or word-of-mouth awareness which is for free it also relies on viral marketing. Thus, it targets younger audiences who mostly patronize products or services endorsed by influencers or by viral videos.

History and Origin of Guerilla Marketing

The coined term guerilla marketing was made popular by Jay Conrad Levinson’s book Guerilla Marketing published in 1984 to describe unusual marketing tools used to advertise in cases when funds are restricted or nonexistent. He was the founder of the Guerilla Marketing Association. As an advertising executive, coach, and specialist, he authored many books on guerilla marketing.

As radio, tv, and print media were losing their popularity from 1980 to the 1990s and consumers were jaded about always being marketed to. Advertisers and marketers felt the need to create new game plans to deliver their commercial messages to consumers. As a result, the guerilla marketing tactic came about.

Guerilla marketing idea proposes to replace traditional marketing; radio, tv, and print with digital and viral marketing. Its goal is to take consumers by surprise, stirring their emotions by making a startling impression about a brand or product. The goal is to get consumers excited, making them talk about the product or brand to other potential customers.

Benefits of Guerilla Marketing

Going viral with your product or services only requires imagination and creativity making guerrilla marketing techniques cheap yet valuable. As a result, guerilla marketing is very effective for small businesses since they do not need to shell out large amounts of money to create viral phenomena.

Plus, it helps any small business reach more consumers than originally anticipated by going viral. However, big businesses also have adapted to guerilla advertising because it is relatively inexpensive.

Additionally, a guerrilla campaign is unique because it creates an unforgettable experience due to its unconventional method of advertising. Furthermore, it is very effective since it makes use of the element of surprise and shock which creates a lasting impression on a target audience. 

Finally, guerrilla advertising stirs up curiosity in the customers making them buy-in on the product or organization.

Types of Guerilla Marketing Strategy

There are four primary types of guerilla marketing: outdoor guerilla marketing, indoor guerilla marketing, event ambush guerilla marketing, and experiential guerilla marketing. All other examples fall under this as subcategories or guerilla marketing examples.

Outdoor guerilla marketing uses outdoor spaces and public spaces in ingenious and uncommon ways to excite observers. An example of this would be putting an oversize replica of a product or a thought-provoking interactive poster of your event. Make it catchy and unforgettable without destroying any public space and with minimal cost.

Indoor guerilla marketing creates a buzz by using indoor spaces. Make use of stairs in train stations, malls, universities, or any wide-indoor space. Choose places that have high traffic to install your advertisement. A very popular example of this is the dog with moving ticks at the mall for the brand Frontline. The ad made people stop, look twice, and get a good laugh making it very effective.

Event ambush guerilla marketing uses an existing and ongoing event to promote a brand or product or organization. It is called ambush because it is done without permission from event coordinators and organizers.

Event ambushes usually happen in festivals, concerts, conferences, awarding ceremonies like the Fiji water girl from the Golden Globes, or any sporting event such as the time when Pringles ambushed the Wimbledon Championships by distributing 24,000 tubes of pringles outside.

Experiential guerilla marketing encourages interaction with the public about the product, service, or organization being promoted and it can take place anywhere; outdoors or indoors, including at an event. One example of this is the Coca-cola FIFA world cup augmented reality football experience where fans get a chance to play alongside Switzerland star player Xherdan Shaqiri.

Other types of guerilla marketing based on a budget are buzz marketing and grassroots marketing. Another one, which requires a particular budget and is also the most controversial type of guerilla marketing, is astroturfing. Take a deeper look into these types of guerilla marketing below.

Buzz marketing

From the term buzz, this guerilla marketing happens by creating a buzz about a product, a service, or an organization. Its strategy is to let people create conversations about a product or service at an event making a buzz. Sometimes it may use high-profile media to encourage interaction about a product or brand or an event.

It is similar to viral marketing only that it is through word of mouth, from the mouths of consumers or attendees of an event. Buzz marketing is a great way to advertise since it is sincere and factual. The buzz comes from people who have tried the product or been to the event and were satisfied making them refer the product to other people.

Grassroots marketing

Grassroots marketing is more targeted marketing. It targets either individuals or small groups. Making this individual or small group spread awareness of a product or an organization. This marketing extends to the community such as local events. This local event engages the local community encouraging them to spread the word about a product or service hoping that possible customers are paying attention.

Grassroots marketing is a strategy that intends for a company or organization to grow organically as it only uses internal resources to enhance sales or boost brand awareness of the organization.


Astroturfing is a unique kind of marketing that is not usually preferred due to its debatable nature. This guerrilla marketing tactic is quite risky and if things go wrong, it may backfire on the company or the event being advertised.

The term is derived from the term fake turf, like the ones on stadiums which are fake grass. This marketing is fake grassroots efforts. Companies generate funds to create an artificial craze over their product or service through blogs, reviews, or online discussions. Paid consumers create fake testimonials, reviews, and recommendations and make them appear true.

Examples of astroturfing are McDonald’s paying people to line up and buy their newly launched burger, Working Families for Walmart blogs, and Samsung paying for online positive comments on their product and creating negative comments on their competitor brand.

Unique Guerilla Marketing Campaign Examples

Many distinctive and successful guerrilla marketing examples can be your inspiration to advertise your product or next event for a minimal cost. Read on as we cite a few examples of it. 

  1. Graffiti Guerilla Marketing

A way of marketing that promotes a brand or a product or an organization in the form of art. It is cost-effective and makes communicating with consumers easy. It uses streets and alleyways as a canvas to convey its message.

Milk Bottle Graffiti Guerilla Marketing

Source: Global Street Art Agency

When using graffiti guerilla marketing, it is best to ask for permission from establishment owners to have your graffiti done on their premises. Examples of graffiti guerilla marketing done on establishments are Oatly’s anti-marketing campaign, Ikea street art guerilla marketing, etc

  1. Stencil graffiti marketing

Stencil graffiti marketing is the same as graffiti since it is a form of graffiti that uses stencils in creating advertisements. Images or text are created onto a stencil made of paper, cardboard, or plain sheets making an advertisement easy to reproduce. Examples of stencil graffiti are Starbucks clean graffiti, It movie sewer stencil graffiti, etc.

  1. Stealth marketing

The word stealth means quiet, secretive, and cautious. That’s where the term stealth marketing came from. It is sometimes called undercover marketing because of its quiet and secretive nature. By using this marketing, consumers do not realize they are being marketed to. The key is to promote products without directly advertising them. Marketers strategically place products, making them appear hidden but not quite hidden enough.

Examples of this are the FedEx package in the movie Cast Away, the Vaio laptop that Daniel Craig used in the Casino Royale movie, the toothbrush-shaped wooden sticks hidden in sweet treats by Colgate, and the Starbucks coffee cameo appearance on Game of Thrones. Starbucks saved $1 million of free publicity even though it wasn’t intended to be an advertisement and was purely a mistake.

  1. Flash mobs

Flash mob advertising is where a huge number of people perform in a large space. This mob is organized by companies, businesses, and event organizers. The goal of the performance is to create awareness through brand recognition and to influence consumers to buy the product or attend the said event. Hence, for it to be successful at spreading awareness, it must be planned well considering the number of people.

Examples of flash mobs are the T-Mobile flashmob in 2009 at London Liverpool Street station, the Nivea flashmob where upon trying the product people started dancing, and the Tic Tac flash mob where people started fainting because of a supposedly bad breath from an unsuspecting victim. Flash mobs are hilarious and fun and will surely get consumers’ attention

  1. Publicity stunts

Publicity stunts are doing something unusual or unthinkable at a public event to draw attention to a person, a product, or an organization. The stunt is designed to amaze so that it will go viral and earn media coverage. Examples are Fiji water girl at the 2019 Golden Globes red carpet, Taco Bell buying the Liberty Bell, and many more crazy publicity stunts.

  1. Urban environment

Creating advertisements by making use of public spaces is one of the most successful ways of guerilla marketing. This is done so in an urban environment strategy. Making use of urban areas where there is high foot traffic, urban environment marketing encourages interaction in wide spaces and creates a big impact with less expense. 

Marketers may use drones, install projectors, put up an oversized version of a product, etc. Examples of this kind are the Nike running bench, McDonald’s oversized coffee on the street, snake-wrapped bus, and others.

  1. Ambient 

Ambient is the most popular guerilla marketing. Making use of guerilla marketing’s element of shock, ambient marketing usually places advertisements in unexpected places wherever are available. Yet placement is not all for this strategy, shockingly communicating your product by interfering with the flow of things is best with ambient guerilla marketing.

Examples of ambient guerilla marketing are BIC’s razor on a lawn, watch on handles of public transits, the Louis Vuitton store opening, a giant soda machine shower by sprite, etc.

  1. Viral

This kind of marketing encourages customers to share about the product or service or an organization on the internet through different social media platforms. Using influence, tends to have exponential growth and spread awareness of your product or event like wildfire. 

Examples of this marketing are Sam Conniff’s, Be More Private book ad, Burger King’s Influencer Stunt on their funnel cake fries, Mous’ protective case for Iphone, and many other viral videos that made companies and organizational events profit whether it is intended to go viral or accidentally went viral.

  1. Wild postings

Wild postings utilize posters made of paper or vinyl placed on strategic places such as the side of buildings. This tends to be cheaper than other marketing as it relies only on sidewalks. Good examples of this are the posters you see on buildings, construction sites, barricades, and other public places that promote a product or an event.

  1. Pop-up retail

This type of marketing makes use of temporary retail stores that are easy to set up and take down. Companies and businesses allow customers to try a product or service at the pop-up store hoping that they would enjoy the experience. The success of pop-up retail is in choosing the best location. The best location is somewhere unconventional and has high foot traffic. 

By having high foot traffic in your location you’d be able to increase the reach of your product or event. Reaching people and spreading awareness is one major goal of pop-up retail and not just increasing sales or attendees of your event.

An example of pop-up retail is the Childish Gambino pop-up events with free ice cream where their song was being played on a loop while the ice cream was being given to everyone in the queue.

Major Guerilla Marketing Flops

Guerilla marketing has its rewards and benefits but there are also risks involved in this kind of marketing. Many big companies have tried guerilla marketing which resulted in a major guerilla marketing flop. If you are considering guerilla marketing do it with calculated risk. No one wants supposedly cost-effective marketing to result in a million-dollar mistake. Here are some major guerilla marketing flops:


Snapple made a major guerilla marketing flop when they tried to break a Guinness world record for the world’s largest popsicle. In the summer of 2005, Snapple made a 25-foot-tall giant popsicle at New York Times Square. The giant ice treat would soon melt in the summer heat before it was even erected. Making a pink sticky mess on the street that firefighters had to be called to water the mess down.

The stunt may have become viral as what the marketers wanted to achieve. But surely having your product described as sticky go and your event being called disaster on a stick would not create the sales you desired

Cartoon Network

To generate attention for its new show, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Cartoon Network hired Interference, an agency to install LED-powered placards portraying a character from the show. These placards were mistaken for bombs leading to massive panics. And on January 31, 2007, Boston police got a call from someone fearing a potential terrorist threat. Roads and bridges were closed down in response to the terrorism scare.

Consequently, the cable network was made to pay $2 million for the city-wide panic in Boston as compensation to the Boston Police Department. Jim Samples, General Manager and Executive Vice President of Cartoon Network, was also forced to resign from his job.


Another guerilla marketing flop was done by Vodafone, New Zealand. The marketing stunt was done during a match between New Zealand and their arch-nemesis, Australia at the Bledisloe Cup, an International Rugby cup. Two men streak down with the Vodafone corporate logo painted on their backs on the field. 

The stunt interrupted the game as New Zealand was about to take a penalty causing a distraction and NZ ended up losing the game. Angry fans blamed Vodafone for the loss and Vodafone ended up in legal action for the streak. Paying $100,000 as a fine and a full-page ad in the press apologizing for the streak.

Vodafone marketers must love guerilla marketing as their guerilla marketing mishaps happened twice. Vodafone, Romania also had its share of guerilla marketing mistakes when they tried to sell phone insurance. They hired pick-pocketers to slip into peoples’ purses, bags, and pockets promotional flyers. This led to complaints as people felt violated.

These guerilla marketing flops show that sometimes going viral may not be the best option. If you want to go viral do it thoughtfully and with proper consideration of its mass effect. As it is inexpensive, it can cause you millions if not done the right way. Remember to encourage interaction and not disruption and destruction.

Take Your Marketing Efforts to the Next Level

Effectively attract people’s attention to your product or organization by going with the guerilla marketing approach. It is cost-effective for you yet it will create a lasting impact and recollection of your event to your target customers because it’s different, unconventional, and sometimes, hilarious.

Event Marketers also utilize Guerrilla Marketing Strategy to promote their events. By taking on the Guerilla Tactic, you can advertise your event with a low budget. You can also partner with an Event Management Tool like Event Espresso.

We guarantee the success of events by helping you with event registration and ticketing management for your events. Make your event more profitable and efficient by partnering with Event Espresso.

Many have tried and were satisfied with our services, don’t get left out. Be among the event strategists who have experienced the first-class service of Event Espresso. Try our free demo now!

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