Truckside advertising and guerrilla advertising are both valuable forms of outdoor advertising. They have many commonalities. You'll see them both when you step out of your house, they're both targeted, and they're both affordable. But most importantly, they're both attention grabbers. However, they're not the same, although some truck adverts can be considered guerrilla. Confusing, I know. Let me break it down for you.
What is Guerrilla Marketing?
By definition, it's a marketing tactic in which marketers use unconventional means to advertise their product. Well, that's the shooter version, but we'll go over its origins and components and whatnot. But don't worry, I won't ramble. I'll just give you what's important and relevant to answer our questions.
The man who created the term "guerrilla marketing" is Jay Conrad Levinson by writing a book in the same name. Now, the way he talks about it isn't exactly applicable in the guerrilla marketing we use today, but we have to consider that the book was written in 1983. He wrote many books about guerrilla tactics in more than one professional area. In other words, guerrilla isn't only applicable to advertising. But since advertising is the only area that interests us today, let's focus on that.
First of all, it's for the bold. When it comes to guerrilla, there is no room for fear. You should be able to try everything, think about things that no one has seen before. At that point, creativity must be involved. In fact, creativity plays a big part in it. You'll understand better after I show you the examples. Second of all, it's disruptive. It will interrupt your day to day life. You'll see weird things pop out of nowhere on your way to work, in your local supermarket, in the town's mall, etc. And lastly, it's fun. Or should I say it could be fun? Because it all depends on the message being conveyed, right? And also, the call to action. If the ad is put up by an organization trying to collect money for hungry kids, for example, the message certainly won't be funny.
While doing some research about the subject, I came across some articles mentioning "types of guerrilla." I even wrote one. But in this context, I think it's better to consider that there aren't many different types of a guerrilla. Instead, there are many ways of incorporating it in your advertising campaign.
- Outdoor Guerrilla Marketing: the advertiser adds something removable to a piece of street furniture. It can be a poster, an object relevant to the product, or an artwork.
- Indoor Guerrilla Marketing: same as outdoor guerrilla marketing, except only it takes place indoors - obviously- in locations like train stations, malls, grocery stores or university campus buildings.
- Event Ambush Guerrilla Marketing: this plays on the element of surprise, which is an element of guerrilla marketing, but it can be risky. To put it flatly, the advertiser uses an event organized by someone else to promote their product.
- Experiential Guerrilla Marketing: Any of the previous ways cited about - or all of them at the same time - plus some interaction with the public. A good example could be product sampling.
- Guerrilla Projections: the advertiser installs hidden projectors or cameras in the area they plan on executing their advertising stunt to generate buzz.
- Viral Marketing: like its name indicates, it's made to impact the public in a way that makes it go viral. Unfortunately, it's not always up to the advertiser. Only the public can make anything go viral or not.
Why Use Guerrilla Marketing?
Using guerrilla marketing as an advertising technique has both pros and cons, like any other advertising technique. However, the difference is that guerrilla's cons don't weight too much on balance.
- Low cost: I think what advertisers like most about guerrilla marketing, aside from its efficiency, is its low-cost nature. It doesn't have to cost much to execute; you just need a great creative capital.
- You don't have to do much to spread the word. If your idea is original enough, the public will do that for you. Like I mentioned earlier, it's up to the public only to make your ad go viral or not.
- It works when done well, of course. It drives traffic to your physical and your online store, making you earn big profits!
- High number of impressions: because it's an unconventional advertising tactic, it usually draws curiosity. Everyone loves to see something unique, and that's how you'll easily make your impressions. It gets even better when you choose the right location.
- It's fun: I read somewhere that creativity is intelligence having fun, but I can't remember the author of the quote. What I mean is as long as you invest a great deal of creativity in your ad, people will have fun interacting with it.
- There is no guarantee that your campaign will go viral since it's not up to you.
- It is unpredictable, especially if you're relying on live events. There can be fewer people than expected, the weather can change abruptly, or the equipment can stop working.
- Your audience may misunderstand your ad campaign, which can result in your company facing a backlash.
- You could get sued: Yes, advertising can be risky too. As much as creativity and boldness are significant assets for a successful guerrilla marketing campaign, you need to be careful not to piss off the wrong people. There could be grave consequences, especially if you choose to go for event ambush or guerrilla projections.
A Few Examples
There are so many examples of great guerrilla marketing campaigns that I could go at it for hours. But we don't have that much time, so I will only show some of my favorites.
We all know that environmental issues are a hot topic right now. Well, it has been for a while, and activists have been trying to make themselves heard in many ways. However, how many people actually listen. Maybe they haven't used the right tactics? I mean, handing out flyers in the streets or holding meetings haven't been cutting it so far. Same goes for protests. That's why some organizations turned to guerrilla marketing. They put posters showing pictures of trees almost being cut off all over a park, on the trees themselves. The message is simple: if you don't take action now, this is where we're heading, and no one will ask your opinion about it.
To launch their new underwear and undershirt, the brand GoldToe decided to shock and tease the public of New York City while creating some buzz in the process. Statues throughout the city were dressed in those undergarments, and people had a field day seeing them. It created a lot of media coverage, and the company didn't even do much. A great example of an effective guerrilla right there. Not much spent in execution and they still made an impression on the public. And it also got an incredible number of impressions considering that people took pictures and posted them on different social media platforms.
No one is unaware of Axe's famous ad campaigns suggesting that wearing their deodorant attracts women. Well, the brand used that messaging again in one of their guerrilla campaigns, and it was very creative and clever of them. Remember that man on every exit sign? In malls, airports, or even your workplace? Turns out, he wasn't running from fire after all. He was running away from all the women he attracted from using Axe. I bet you didn't expect such a revelation. To think that Axe created this story with only a few stickers is really impressive.
Remember I mentioned indoor guerrilla marketing earlier in this post? Well, I'm giving you an example of that now. There are many places where you can encounter guerrilla indoors, such as malls, grocery stores, etc. You can find them on escalators, elevators or just on the walls. To promote the skydive experience they provide their customers, Swiss Skydive put a very realistic sticker on an elevator floor. They were trying to give the public an idea of what it looks like to skydive. I think it's a brilliant way to achieve that.
Yes, indoor guerrilla marketing also includes airports. Where do you think travel agencies and tourism institutions get their customers? The advertising world is full of creative surprises, and you can never be sure that the ad you just saw is the best you'll ever see. There will always be better. Like with this guerrilla stunt by Beau Rivage Resort Casino that used airport baggage belts. This is brilliant on so many levels. While passengers are waiting for their bags, they can't avoid the ad. That's how you secure impressions, people. Also, they shot right at the target. I mean, who is a better target than someone who can afford to travel?
Is it Different from Truckside Advertising?
One is done exclusively on trucks while the other can be found literally anywhere. However, they do have some elements in common. They're both targeted and appropriate for small businesses because they are great means of raising awareness. They're both able to fit into any budget as well. It could be tricky, though, because some guerrilla marketing campaigns are very upscale. In such cases, the advertiser should have a substantial budget. Even though truckside advertising can be creative, it doesn't come near close to guerrilla in that department. Guerrilla is more flexible when it comes to creativity since you can execute it pretty much anywhere. But if you are really into truckside advertising, as you should be, because it's an excellent way of doing advertising, I have good news for you - guerrilla can be executed on trucks, too!