Guerrilla Marketing, Creative and Disruptive Advertising

By Orana Velarde 2 months ago

As designers, we all learn early on that “less is more.” The first thing we think about when considering to use less design for bigger impact is minimalism. The design concept of minimalism is when designers use the least amount of design elements to get a message across. It’s a fine line between perfect and boring.

But today we aren’t talking about minimalism. There is another concept in which a simple visual element speaks volumes. With the help of surprise, unexpected intervention, irregular size, and other off the wall tactics, guerrilla marketing takes center stage.

What is Guerrilla Marketing anyway?

The term “guerrilla marketing” was coined in 1984 by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book Guerrilla Advertising. The name is inspired by guerrilla movements which are disruptive and usually dipped in a bit of anarchy. The name is also a direct correlation to guerrilla warfare, used by armed civilians. Some examples are ambushes, sabotage, raids, Molotov cocktails, and most importantly the element of surprise.

Guerrilla marketing uses the same tactics as guerrilla warfare. To get in your face, to make a statement, to be disruptive and have an impact. The idea is to make a memorable imprint on the consumer. It’s a whole different way of getting the word out about a product or service.

Unforgettable Experiential Guerrilla Marketing

The most memorable and successful Guerrilla marketing campaigns are the ones that make an impact through social interaction. The following three examples made history in the realm of experiential guerrilla marketing and will never be forgotten.

zoo bus image


Red Bull Stratos

The all-time best guerrilla marketing campaign that literally went off the charts was the stratospheric jump by Felix Baumgartner for Red Bull. In October 2012 skydiver Baumgartner flew up to the Stratosphere on a balloon and jumped to a freefall of over 128,100 feet. The event garnered so much social media attention that it has been considered one of the most successful guerrilla campaigns of all time. Through the Red Bull team’s social media efforts, they broke an 8 million concurrent viewer record on YouTube as well as lots of attention on their website, Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Red Bull Stratos image


Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

The ice bucket challenge took the world by storm when thousands of people were doing it and posting videos of it online. Even though lots of participants didn’t even know what ALS was when they did the challenge, it still made an impact. After months of people doing the ice bucket challenge, the term ALS finally started to stick and the campaign garnered lots of donations and a higher awareness than ever before.

Coca-Cola Happiness Machine

Back in 2010, the Coca-Cola company set up a special vending machine on a college campus and surrounded it with hidden cameras. For two days, the cameras recorded students getting not only coca-colas but also all sorts of gifts coming out of the vending machine. The reactions were priceless and were then edited into an unforgettable video. This interactive campaign won a CLIO award for its unique approach to marketing. A great example of Guerrilla Marketing.

Visual Guerrilla Marketing Examples

A more common style of guerrilla marketing is a visual intervention of public spaces. This is the style where graphic designers come into play. Below are just a few examples, I suggest you do a deep dive by searching “guerrilla marketing” on Pinterest.

McDonald’s fries crossroads

McDonald’s fries crossroads image


Coop’s Paints with Nationwide Insurance

Coop's paint image


Mars Truck Size

Mars Truck Size


How to use Guerrilla Marketing as a designer

When it comes to brainstorming a guerrilla marketing campaign, you really have to think out of the box. Thinking up of a good guerrilla marketing idea is a lot like coming up with funny puns. It’s easier for some people than it is for others, so it’s totally ok to ask for some help when brainstorming.

When designing for guerrilla marketing, it’s important to make sure the message gets across and that the execution is spot on. Nothing worse than a huge badly placed sticker on a bus which turns into a negative message when the doors open.

If you will be designing a large scale graphic or billboard make sure you do it in vector so the printing comes out looking great! Also, make sure to do a color test at a small scale and don’t forget to proofread everything!

Spool Cord Keeper


Guerrilla Marketing doesn’t need to be huge, it can also be as small as a matchbox or a bit of swag. For example, leaving stickers or keychains with a company’s slogan and contact details can be just as effective as long as it catches the eye of the consumer.

Over to you

What are your favorite guerrilla marketing campaigns you’ve seen in your area? Have you designed a guerrilla marketing idea for a client before? What do you think? Is it really all it’s hyped up to be?

By Orana Velarde