Guerrilla in the wild

Guerrilla in the wild 

Guerrilla marketing refers to marketing done in unconventional ways. The term was coined in the early 1980s by Jay Conrad in his book called, you guessed it, ‘Guerrilla Advertising’. Inspired by guerrilla warfare, an umbrella term for tactics focused on shock-factor – like the element of surprise, ambushes, and sabotage.

Just like guerrilla warfare, guerrilla advertising uses the same tactics. 

It doesn’t rely on big budgets and can often disrupt the brands that do have bigger budgets – like Banksy, with an advertising degree. 

It’s up for debate whether big brands can pull off guerrilla marketing, as the definition itself is when small, less organised groups go against big, more organised powers. 

Nevertheless, this doesn’t stop the big brands from trying. 


Ambient marketing is all about the element of surprise. Put something that doesn’t look like an advert, where your audience won’t expect and increase the chances of them remembering you. 


IT Film release


Though the IT movie franchise was already well known, this simplistic and slightly terrifying guerrilla advertising is a double-taker. (No, No, No, oh okay – just an advert) 

Budget: Pack of red balloons, stencil, white spray paint.
Impact: Massive. 




This tricky ambient from Frontline would have made hairs on arms stand up until you realise those aren’t fleas. They’re people. 

The great things about this ad are:

  1. Giant dog 
  2. The ‘fleas’ are unaware they’re part of the creative (until going higher in the shopping centre)
  3. It would have done the same job, without the copy

Budget: Single ad placement (enough time for people to photograph it) & paying the dog model.
Impact: Massive (dog).



Sometimes known as coat-tail marketing or hijacking. Ambush marketing is a great example of how brands can be inspired and quickly react, taking ownership of a space that wasn’t theirs. 

It’s a great way to piggyback off another brand’s efforts, often mocking and therefore more memorable.


Newcastle Brown Ale


Ambush campaigns, by their very nature, are cheeky and offer a lot of creative flexibility.

Newcastle brown ale saw their chance and took it. Who does use the word chalice? 

Budget: Single ad placement, judgemental copywriters wage.
Impact: A tagline brought to life. They don’t just say ‘no boll***s’, they mean it. 


Fiji – Watergirl


Ambush campaigns have the freedom to get more creative, as they are often born from moments of opportunity and need to be acted on quickly – like this model did when she photobombed the Golden Globe A-listers. 

Budget: Now, this one will have been a little more expensive than the other types of Guerrilla advertising, but boy was paying for that blue dress worth it.
Impact: People literally not being able to believe Fiji pulled a stunt like this. 


Stella Artois – US Open


Ambush marketing can take the form of pretending to sponsor an event – all you need is the right creative, location and the… chalices? 

Stella Artois showed they can be guerrilla too, with this campaign at a subway station during the 2011 US Open. The ads made Stella look like official sponsors, of course, they were not. 

Budget: This may seem expensive, but, when you don’t get permission from the event sponsor, things get a lot cheaper.
Impact: Big big big exposure. 



Some ambient instalments pack more of a punch than others – creating something cool for people to stop and take pictures of is one thing. But interfering with their daily lives by removing something they take for granted is another. 

Sabotage doesn’t have to mean sabotaging another brands’ adverts. Nay nay, it can mean interfering with something the general public takes for granted to get your message across.


Unicef – Dirty Water Vending Machine


How do you get New Yorkers to pay attention to the dirty water crisis in places like Ethiopia? Put it in their hands, literally. The bottles were cleverly labelled with the same diseases you can expect in water from suffering areas. 

Budget: Bottled water, creative team, day licence.
Impact: New Yorkers being face to face with a problem from the other side of the world. 


Nike – Just Do It


When is an ambient installation not an installation? When Nike removed the seat from this bench. 

Nike really captured ‘show, don’t tell’ beautifully here – they perfectly captured their brand value using only their logo and one single word of copy.

Budget: Minimal.
Impact: A bench that says ‘Just Do It.’ without actually saying it. *chefs kiss*  


FedEx – Always First


At the expense of their own logo, FedEx perfectly trolled DHL with this vehicle wrap. 

They put their tagline to work and showed onlookers that FedEx is, always first.

Ambush marketing, when done well, can help brands create a new perception of themselves with consumers by showing brand values and attributes – in other words, you get a bit of respect for showing some personality. 


Benefits of guerrilla marketing strategies


Budget: Guerrilla marketing is less expensive than other types of marketing while having the potential to gain worldwide recognition. 

The initial installation may be high-cost, but after the event or stunt has taken place, it’s all about waiting for those all-important (free) shares. 


Make it Memorable: Give the consumer an experience they won’t forget. 

By engaging with the consumer in person, you can create a lasting impression – by using unconventional methods, you boost brand awareness. 

It’s the chance to get creative and come up with something different. 


Which one would you remember more? The mop with an advert that tells you how good it is at cleaning up spills? Or the giant mop that’s sucked the water out of the fountains in Hyde Park? 

For some wild ideas, talk to us