Great Guerrilla Advertising Campaigns

What are all the boring advertising stereotypes you can think of? We often regard advertising as an interruption to our favourite shows, a way to decorate public transport, or something we put up with while listening to the radio (does anyone still listen to radio?).

Instead of products being passively pitched in between content, guerilla advertising invites consumers to interact and engage with a campaign through intrigue, shock or surprise - you get the idea. Advertising in this way pushes designers to think of natural user-habitats as canvasses for their design, with fun and thought-provoking results.

News flash: It ain’t all about screens.

Guerilla advertising gives consumers the opportunity to connect with products and ideas while their internal ad blocker is down. It also give consumers a chance to decide how they interact with the product or brand, and it becomes a two-way conversation. Human-centred for the win!

We’ve picked a few of our favourite examples of guerrilla advertising campaigns, and here they are.

Reverse Robberies

‘Reverse Robberies’ was OAK’s solution to a disappointing shortage of their flavoured milk in stores, loudly noted by fans flooding their Facebook page. The henchmen of the campaign, ‘The Robbers’, were dressed in latex masks of the ‘hungrythirsty’ mascot (Sergeant John Henry), and targeted retail fridges around the country. Each ‘reverse robbery’ was documented and used on social media to further the campaign, with eager fans suggesting locations to hit next. OAK took listening-to-their-customers to the next level, eventually obliging thirsty fans who demanded their own fridges be stocked too. Pretty clever way to get fans shouting from the rooftops.

Don’t App When You’re Hungry

Following their hugely successful “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” creative concept, Snickers waged a bet that people would do dumb stuff under the influence of hunger. They released three apps, 'Liquishield' (an app that waterproofs your phone), 'Is My Phone On?' (self explanatory), and '1000 Silent Ringtones' (also pretty obvious). Lots of people fell for it and the apps were downloaded over 2000 times. When users tried to activate its function, an ‘are you serious?’ type notification popped up, with a welcome consolatory voucher for Snickers, thus restoring brain power. High five to Snickers for getting their chocolate bars to consumers in an unexpected and entertaining way.

Slower is Better

How do you turn an anti-speeding campaign into a message that really slows people down?  For “Slower is Better”, creatives put interactive billboards along roads where speed had become an issue. The billboard displayed a changing dollar value, showing mock totals of hospital bills racked up by a hypothetical road accident. The amount changed based on the speed of the traffic; cars clocked at over 25 mph (40kph) were displayed on the billboard, with a few zeros added. So for a driver going at 30 mph, the hospital bill displayed was $30, 000. We applaud their creativity and a resulting campaign with powerful impact.

Save The Planet, Save The Paper

It can be difficult to translate big world ideas that are urgently important, without overwhelming your audience. WWF did a great job, with a concept that came from thinking inside the box, or rather box-shaped dispensers. Targeting public bathrooms, they created hand towel dispensers with clear windows, shaped like countries that were being devastated by the paper industry. As the supply of hand towels in the dispensers decreased, so too did the symbolic  ‘resources’ of the country pictured. Made us think, made us sad, made us use less. Nailed it.

Smart Ideas for Smarter Cities

A big part of effective pitching is not just telling your audience what your big idea is, but showing them. IBM nailed this when they turned their advertising billboards into useful improvements, turning a passive advertising experience into a positive user experience. Some of our favourites were; curling the top of a billboard over to become a weather shelter; turning the bottom of a billboard into a bench for sitting; and extending a billboard to cover stairs below with a ramp  (perfect for wheeled suitcases, or bicycles). It’s hard to argue with their campaign while directly benefiting from such simple but powerful changes. Kudos to you, IBM.