13 December, 2007

Guerilla Marketing Gets Down and Dirty

You'd think by now I'd be used to the adulation, but I still get a lump in my throat each and every time I read one of the lovely letters you out there send me. Keep them coming. Along with your questions. I received this one a few days ago:

Dear Jason,

I'm a creative-type person at a very powerful ad agency in a city in the US. Lately I've become concerned that advertising, as it is classically framed, is in fact, dead. Or dying, at least. Yes, I know. How boorishly, post-modern, generic, Nihilist of me. But here's my issue: Media glut. The numbers we call "people" who consume our messages are bombarded from every conceivable medium almost constantly. I'm afraid that getting any of these "people" to sort our clients' messages out of the morass, through standard channels at least, is like a Paramecium reading a "Where's Waldo?" book. Help!!

Nietzsche Marketer

Dear Nietzche Marketer,

It's definitely not dead. I poked it, and it was still breathing. But yes, normal advertising channels are becoming more and more like screaming into a windstorm. Or worse, like screaming into a vacuum. Case in point is the continuing erosion of the :30 TV spot by DVR and similar technologies. So what's a creative-type advertising monkey to do? Go guerilla. Ditch the standard channels. Find a new hill to climb--one where no one is standing--and fling your poo in the surety that gravity and a lack of obstacles will deliver your message into the faces and minds of the numbers below.

The folks over at
Street Advertising Services have developed a pretty novel approach to "cutting through the muck." They do it by actually cutting through the muck...with high pressure water cleaning. They call it "Reverse Graffiti." It's like the "Wash Me" messages we've all seen scrawled out of the dirt on the backs of garbage trucks (and my Jeep, for that matter. Punk kids!). For an undisclosed fee, SAS will take an advertiser's message, convert it to a stencil, and then clean it into dirty pavement, walls, and buildings. Any soiled surface becomes a potential messaging spot. And, unlike standard graffiti, this isn't illegal. They're just cleaning the sidewalk, or parts of it at least.

Another sort of "street" advertising is performance art. Create an event, or happening, real or not, that will catch people's eyes. Here are a few examples that, assuming the Infinite Universes theory is correct, could surely happen...one day. Imagine:

- General Mills, in a bid to increase awareness of its Cookie Crisp brand cereal, hires actors to play Keystone Cop characters, chasing the Cookie Crook around Times Square to reclaim a stolen breakfast.

- A California wedding planner stages a lavish mock wedding beside the Golden Gate Bridge with signs everywhere saying, "Wedding Crashers Welcome". In a co-branding effort, New Line Cinema sponsors the dinner buffet.

- Yukon Gold Bank and Trust fakes a robbery in one of their branches, complete with phony police outside, in an effort to compete with larger banks and gain some relatively free exposure; the media doesn't know the robbery is a fake, although the local police are informed ahead of time.

The moral here is this: When there are too many others in your tree, find another tree. All you really need to do to ensure your clients' messages are heard is exercise that creativity pent up in your little simian brain and guerilla market your way to advertising success!

Love Always,

Jason Bloom, Senior Avid Editor

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