Guerrilla Marketing: Shock Tactic or Viable Alternative to Traditional Marketing?

A street bench that looks like a Kit-Kat. A bus-stop advertisement with a picture of a wig on it. A street painting that looks like a hole in the floor. These are all things that we may have seen at one time or another, or perhaps something like it as we go about our daily lives. Do we take notice of these quirky clever campaigns or do we find them irritating and silly? Or do we just prefer good old fashioned brand design and advertising methods?

We like what we see

Many companies approach branding in the traditional sense, with an appealing logo, clearly defined services and an effective website. Products sold through retailers are designed in such a way to grab the attention of the intended target audience. However, occasionally there will come along an advertising campaign that will grab your attention just because it’s different and in this day and age, we are excited when we see something completely different, something we have never seen before.

Product placement on TV shows and large billboard advertising is still an effective way of promoting your product and this should never be ignored but with the digital world starting to encroach on everything we do, shouldn’t we look to utilize these opportunities and exploit them to our advantage? We react to things we see and visual stimulation has always been a part of marketing tactics, so the idea of doing something radically different that isn’t expected can be a risk but if it works it can be hugely beneficial.

Shock Tactics

Shock marketing has become a mainstream term, mainly because of the use of disturbing and thought-provoking images on TV adverts, such as the Stop-smoking advert which caused a stir in the media in 2010. The idea is that showing graphic imagery is the most effective way of getting through and changing people’s mind-set. This isn’t always the case but it seems that in 2013 it’s more acceptable than ever to show these types of images, even before the watershed, or on marketing material easily accessible by all.

Are we in danger of not giving credit where it’s due, though? Many people can absorb subtle images and take a hidden message from it without it being shoved in front of them, sometimes in a distasteful way. Guerrilla Marketing however, is a great way of providing those subtle images or promoting a brand by doing something different but also, eye-catching and dare I say it, trendy. Just like with the recent obsession with Flash Mobs, Guerrilla Marketing (although being around a lot longer) is being used all the time now and is a great way to involve your audience with your brand.

By using well-thought out visual trickery and having some fun with it, you can gain that most precious commodity in marketing, word of mouth.

Contributed by Robert Pinto-Fernandes. Rob is a writer who works alongside He is a self-confessed marketing geek who writes on a range of subjects that interest him such as merchandising, the retail economy and store design.

Photo provided by Robert Pinto-Fernandes from

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