Category Archives: guerilla marketing

Ford test drives a Plaid

We’re on a plane today bound for California so will leave you with this roadtrip campaign by our friends at interactive shop Plaid. They’re touring middle America to see what brands and agencies are doing on the cutting edge of social media.

Above, Plaid interviews Scott Monty, head of Ford’s social media program. Scott just passed the Year 1 mark at Ford in the role, and we’re sure it wasn’t always easy — don’t miss his post on the bumps and successes along the way. Critics might see it all as just another PR move, but we think Scott is forging something different — an outreach program that moves beyond the brand. We’ve seen Scott congratulate competitors for winning awards, get back to people on Sundays, and rail on the silliness of stupid marketers. Scott is making Ford seem human.

And that’s just one stop. You can follow Plaid’s two-week journey at

(Full disclosure: Plaid invited us to guest post at their Top 100 blog Brandflakes for Breakfast while they’re out playing. We may not give the keys back.)

Tangible Interaction’s magic Graffiti Wall

Alex Beim is a self-described design junkie from Uruguay who moved up to Tribal DDB Canada and now has launched Tangible Interaction. The new shop blends cutting-edge design with guerilla experience — think programming plus creative and music and lighting and performers for sidewalk or retail displays that grab you by the throat.

We especially dig the sensory experience of this Graffiti Wall, which allows passers-by to expand on a marketing message using pens tracked with an infrared camera. So cool — although we wonder how many can create true art like this.’s Man Vending Machine

We knew we could be replaced. To promote the site, which has a diverse range of entertainment content for every woman, TBWA\Whybin, Auckland created a Man Vending Machine filled with a diverse range of real, live, single men. Women could choose their “favourite flavour” — classic man, action man, romantic man, rich man, foreign man, or, ahem, the battery-powered “Mr. Perfect.” It worked perfectly except for supply shortages; the men were all taken within 30 minutes. The vibrating substitutes lasted a bit longer.

McDonald’s, just the stop for interplanetary road trips

Someone has cut an eerie crop circle in Nebraska that looks an awful lot like a McDonald’s ad. At first glance, this “media placement” is downright silly, since only 0.58% of the U.S. population lives in Nebraska, you can’t see it without a plane, and surely participants walking in the maze pack a picnic.

Yet all this goofiness points out the new media strategy of seeding a viral campaign — using lever A to set off a cascade of people talking B. Someone at McDonald’s, we bet, was willing to invest a few thousand dollars in cutting up a cornfield in hopes that web sites would pass along the message. The cost of creating corn mazes has fallen in recent years as companies such as The Maize give farmers GPS-guided tools to design paths that resemble almost anything.

Or perhaps space aliens just get hungry.

Via Marta Kagan and Brandcurve.

Vauxhall: Who knew UFOs had car babies?

If you follow advertising you probably heard that what appeared to be a UFO crashed by the Tower Bridge in London last weekend. After a few days of buzz — “what the hell IS that?” — yesterday the big unveil happened, in which the new Vauxhall Insignia car dropped from a silvery floating thing in the sky, men in black looked serious, and women in short attire played electronic violins.

Dammit, there is a place for big silliness in advertising. Nice work by branding shop Cow, especially in avoiding lawsuits from dropping the car on a model’s head. We so wish we had heard the debate in the original pitch meeting …

The economics of guerilla marketing

We recently built a media plan for a client that included a few alternative marketing concepts — not lights under bridges in Boston, but potentially street teams, projections on the sides of urban buildings, rolling Segways on college campuses, that sort of thing. Trouble was, when you compare guerilla marketing vs. traditional media on a CPM spreadsheet, the costs look out of whack. CPMs for traditional cable or print, when targeted to tight geos and demos, are $15-$75. Guerilla marketing that might reach a few hundred or thousand people has a CPM of $450 or up.

Clients shake heads. Nice innovation, they say. But no thanks.

Then, we rethought the math. Are all impressions equal? If a consumer hears a radio spot, do they really listen, and then tell others? MRI tells us no, there is usually 66% or more waste from consumers exposed to your ad who are not paying attention. Now, if a consumer sees a brand-flag-waver in brand-color spandex on a Segway rolling down the street, will she notice and talk about it later? Yep.

The calculation is tricky. You might estimate true imprints (guerilla) have 100% impression comprehension vs. perhaps a 33% impression recall from old-school media. You might then say dramatic imprints (guerilla) have a tenfold chance of being told to others. Add it up, that’s a 30x bang for your buck, or a CPM down from the $450 range to $15.

We don’t know for sure if people really notice. So we sent a gorilla over to your office to check.

Lessons in guerilla marketing from Iran

We watched Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with fascination yesterday, not for his comments on nukes or the holocaust, but because he kicked off a firestorm of positive PR for Columbia University. School chief Lee Bollinger, initially slammed by protesters for inviting the Iranian president, began the debate with a 10-minute attack on Ahmadinejad’s views. In the U.S., Columbia U. came out shining.

All of which reminds us of guerilla marketing. When we present alternative marketing concepts to clients, the options typically fit on a flowchart and are evaluated by CPM, or cost per (mil) thousand impressions. Compared to radio, cable or print costs, the cost to make impressions with events, street teams, video people, outdoor projection ads, etc. seems astronomical. Hmm, the client says. That looks too silly, and way too expensive.

When evaluating alternative marketing, consider that it’s not just the impressions, but the word of mouth and viral shakeout that follow the event that counts. At the Iranian president’s speech yesterday, there were just a few hundred seats in the auditorium, but more than one thousand chanted and waved signs outside. The buzz ran on the news nets and the scene was carried in papers internationally. Everyone in the world with a Western inclination heard Columbia University held its own, with a little flair. Run the event against the number of seats in the house, and the CPM looks high. Consider the PR amplification, and it sure looks different.

You can’t buy that kind of buzz. Or can you?