No education in marketing, advertising, PR or design is complete without an extremely obnoxious foray into the world of guerrilla marketing. Whether you had that professor who explicitly required that you create something of a “guerrilla” nature, or you were that overzealous student who would rather Google marketing ideas than party on the weekends, I have no doubt that you’ve seen more photos of manhole covers, bus stop decorations and 3-D billboards than you care to remember.
I’ll admit that even I have multiple (extremely clever) examples of non-traditional campaign components in my book. But I can assure you these stunts are not what landed me a job at an agency that specializes in the unexpected.
I want you to think long and hard about the last time you saw a guerrilla marketing effort in-person. For the sake of this exercise, I want you to exclude publicity stunts (because they’re actually very traditional) and flash mobs (because I’m getting really tired of them). Now, if you have an image in your mind, I want you to think about what makes this effort so non-traditional.
Is it because the medium doesn’t fall into any of the usual spectra – print, broadcast, outdoor, online? Does the format stand out from other similar ads?
Are you starting to feel a little behind yet?
It’s no secret that marketers have done petty things to catch the eyes of big crowds, but the reality is that non-traditional marketing has become so traditional that nobody cares anymore.
With the rise of the Internet, the purpose of guerrilla efforts evolved from catching eyes to generating buzz. Then, non-traditional banner ads broke through to those who gave up their outside time to sit on their computers. Now, in a world where anyone can take the Internet with them wherever they go, social media reigns supreme, and people are rediscovering the great outdoors.
The only problem now is that nobody’s going to look up from their smartphone to see the life-sized bovine hanging off your billboard.
But really. Would anyone even be surprised to see that? The Internet brought a plethora of images into every home – both pleasant and horrific – and those people whose attention you’re trying so desperately to attract have seen it all. You’re wasting a lot of money.
To marketers, the Internet also brought unlimited places to place advertisements and unprecedented information regarding who sees them. So why are you exhausting your budget on a few seconds of interest that, yes, will be remembered slightly longer than a billboard, but will ultimately leave you clamoring for adjectives to justify ROI to your client or boss.
So I encourage you:
Students: Don’t waste your time looking at old campaigns unless it’s for a grade. If you have to do something guerrilla, for God’s sake, do not make a 3-D billboard.
Marketers: Stop trying so hard. You’re beginning to look desperate.
Professors: Quit it.
Now here’s a game. How many marketing buzzwords can you find in this blog post, and how many of them did you see on an exam?