Guerrilla, not Gorilla, Marketing

At Plaid Swan, we help develop unique ways for clients to make an impact in reaching their audience and guerrilla marketing plays an important role in doing so.  When clients ask me what guerrilla marketing is, I describe it simply as “a grassroots method of advertising” and pair that definition with examples.  Common examples that people typically remember, but may not associate with guerrilla marketing, may include the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile, Chipolte giving away free burritos for anyone who dresses up as a burrito or in tinfoil for Halloween and Oprah’s Free Car Giveaway with GM’s Pontiac G6. Guerrilla marketing can include attention-getting street graphics, strange occurrences, memorable events, buzz, and/or product placements.  It’s inexpensive, but most importantly, it’s memorable and drives traffic to your organization and brand.

Netflix is on the forefront of implementing memorable guerrilla marketing campaigns. For example, to help promote Season 3 of Orange Is The New Black, they created a public stunt in Paris, France by converting the front of a building into a prison and featured inmates resembling those on the show.  Inmates were shuttled by bus into the prison, then a public stunt was performed. Onlookers stared as inmates stood there looking bored, worked out and chatted.  Watch the video here.

How about the launch of Season 4 for The House of Cards?  Netflix set up a faux campaign headquarters for Frank Underwood in Greenville, South Carolina, strategically placed across from the Republican debate in February 2016. “Frank Underwood: Anything for America” was displayed front and center of the structure. Visitors could pick up a “FU 16” campaign button, as well as literature on why Underwood would be the best candidate for the 2016 general election.


guerrilla marketing house-of-cards-greenville

Most recently, Netflix implemented a guerrilla marketing campaign to promote the Gilmore Girls show returning to Netflix. To celebrate the shows return, they transformed 200 coffee shops on October 5, 2016 into Luke’s Diner and gave away over 10,000 cups of coffee. From 9:00AM to 12:00PM that day, fans could experience their own mini Stars Hollow by consuming some free coffee, complete with Gilmore Girls-themed cups and sleeves. These coffee shops expanded throughout all 50 states in the US, as well as into Canada.


Netflix is just one business of many that understands the importance of incorporating this type of grassroots effort into their marketing mix.  No matter the size of your company, you also need to be incorporating these tactics with your traditional media. Let’s talk about why.

It’s Memorable.

Because it’s different from the same day to day advertising methods, guerrilla marketing makes your brand stand out from the crowd.  Many consumers have become immune to standard commercials, billboards and sales pitches over the years, so innovative marketers have implemented guerrilla marketing campaigns that are offbeat and attention grabbing, which in return sticks with the audience.

Unprecedented Exposure.

Media outlets spanning multiple genres covered the recent Gilmore Girls campaign from Netflix. Coverage extended across, Huffington Post, MSN, Forbes and the Today Show, just to name a few. For a campaign that was only live for 5 hours on one particular day, the exposure was unparalleled.  Not only did this campaign gain exposure from media, it quickly went viral when goers to Luke’s Diners’ posted to social media and triggered word-of-mouth about the upcoming release.  When something is out of the ordinary, consumers will talk about it.

Create Collaborations.

Guerrilla marketing doesn’t always involve freebies or your business implementing the entire campaign on its own. Collaborate with another business that attracts the same customers.  Let’s go back to the Netflix examples.  To help with the Orange Is The New Black idea, they sought help from a local transportation company, Paris citizens and a construction company to help build the “prison”.  With the Gilmore Girls campaign, they collaborated with over 200 coffee shops to help implement their idea. This benefited not only Netflix, but also brought in additional business to the coffee shops. Without their involvement, this campaign would not have been successful.

Where does your company start?

Engage your employees and ask them to brainstorm marketing ideas that are inexpensive, yet creative.  The goal of guerrilla marketing is to positively surprise the customers. Think outside the box and take a cue from other companies that have successfully implemented these tactics. When done correctly, it’s a surefire way for customers to remember your brand.

For more information on guerrilla marketing or how your company can benefit from Plaid Swan’s marketing services, visit us at

Brittani-Brittani Wilson │ Director of Public Relations

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