How to create a Guerrilla Marketing Campaign:

Another marketing strategy that creates brand awareness at a fraction of the cost and breaks through the traditional advertising clutter is Guerrilla marketing. It requires creativity, risk taking and therefore a brand must be flexible and adaptable to take these risks as the outcome may be very rewarding, and a brand doesn’t need a big budget to do so.

This type of campaign feeds off PR exposure thus in order for this approach to work a marketing and advertising team needs to be creative and strategic as the aim is to get media attention.  Guerrilla marketing is a great way to get your brand noticed by the public and this will differentiate your brand away from its competitors and if done correctly your brand will be seen as more fun and outgoing than its competitors. Guerrilla marketing can be done off any media platform, even online.

Guerrilla marketing is a campaign that is original, unpredicted and unique in approach. This approach enables a brand to stand out from the advertising clutter and draws viewers attention. Therefore it is an alternative approach to traditional advertising methods and if done correctly it will create a “memorable reaction from or interaction with the viewer”1.

A guerrilla marketing campaign is a brand activation that is slightly unofficial or not completely permitted by the city or event etc. Therefore a brand needs to be risk taking and daring to use this technique when trying to create brand awareness. This campaign is disruptive as it grabs the audience’s attention and is news worthy.

Therefore it is evident that Guerrilla marketing is NOT a form of traditional media. This campaign needs time, imagination, creativity and strategic thinking thus it needs energy from its creatives instead of money.

This campaign should only be used by brands that want to make a statement that they are outgoing and diverse from their competitors, slightly risk taking and very creative, therefore for financial businesses like a bank, this is not really recommended as risk taking (gutsy) it not what you’d like to communicate to your consumers.

When creating a Guerrilla marketing campaign keep in mind that your main aim is to be original in approach and to create newsworthy brand awareness, so keep in mind that this could make cities and some consumers feeling unsettled. One word of advise is to step outside your comfort zone and be completely original, as something that has already been done is not newsworthy.

Steps to follow when creating a Guerrilla Marketing Campaign:

  1. Determine what your core message is (essence). What are you trying to say to your consumer, what are you trying to say about your brand, summarise this down into a 5-second message or embed it into a clever system.
  2. Set clear objectives for your brand, when doing so think about your category, where your brand fits into the category or market, how is it differentiated from its competitors, who are its consumers (therefore taking into account what appeals to them, what attracts them, what would get them talking), target market, what is your goal etc.1
  3. Next is to think of all the ways your idea can come to life.1 All the media platforms that can be used to get your message or idea across and what your desired outcome is. It may help to imagine the story headline that your campaign will create, the ‘tweets’ you’d like to read on Twitter, the posts you’d like to read on Facebook, the photos you’d like to be taken as well as the YouTube videos that you’d want to view.1
  4. Research Research Research! As your goal is to create media attention and reach your target market, you need to research your ideas to see if they have been used before. As newsworthy information (PR) is original, and creating newsworthy and very creative and original campaign will make a positive connection1 to your target market.
  5. Do not aim to “upset, scare or provoke people in a negative way. The goal should be to implement something that people will embrace, enjoy and share with friends.”1

An example of a Guerrilla marketing campaign that occurred during the World Cup 2010 was when Pepsi strategically placed Pepsi in the FIFA volunteers lunch boxes at Durban’s Fifa fan park instead of Coca-Cola.2 And as Coca Cola was one of the main official sponsors this was a big no no. Pepsi apologised and stated that the driver must have got the venue confused or the address wrong (which all in all he may have yet it still created publicity and got Pepsi noticed).

Another Guerrilla campaign that some say was not very successful was Vodafone’s streaker. “In 2002, Vodafone caused quite a stir when it hired two men to streak across the field during a major Australian rugby match, wearing nothing but the Vodafone logo painted across their backs. CNN Explained: the match was being played in a stadium sponsored by Vodafone’s main competitor, Telestra. This one backfired as the streakers were fined and many fans were upset by the disruption (which potentially caused a game-winning kick to be missed). The stunt did succeed in getting tons of worldwide press, and it earned Vodafone a reputation for pushing the envelope. But most of the sentiments about it were negative–not exactly what you want to do with your campaign.”1

Source1: Male, B, 19 April 2010. How to Pull Off a Guerrilla Marketing Campaign It requires creativity, flexibility and a willingness to take a little risk. Retrieved on 23 August 2010 from

Source2Mallinson, T, 2 July 2010. The World Cup Day that was: 2 July, The Daily MaverickThe Mail & GuardianThe Guardian Retrieved on 27 July 2010 from

Picture source:Pepsi vs Coca Cola, Retrieved from:


Guidelines to follow when considering an Ambush marketing campaign:

  1. Never use any actual names, logos, slogans or branding of events, or any graphics, symbols or signage that might be confusingly similar to the sponsors or event owners.
  2. Try to avoid the use of any pictures, words or symbols that are clearly suggestive of an event or which are intended to refer to it. (during the World Cup 2010, a low budget airline; Kulula got asked by FIFA to pull their advert which featured soccer symbols, a soccer player, flags etc )
  3. Do not create an advert which refers to an event such as the World Cup 2010, but which uses the event in a negative light to promote your products or services. For example sending an email to consumers which reviews South Africa’s World Cup 2010 hosted by FIFA, and then goes on to suggest that readers can get away from all the ‘madness’ with a discounted holiday special using the ‘attached voucher’.
  4. Do not run competitions or promotions that give away tickets to the hosted event as prizes, only unless you have the event owner’s (e.g.: FIFA’s ) permission to do so as this straight away links your brand to the event.
  5. Never use the hosted event’s branding and/or names, logos etc on your product’s packaging if you are not an official sponsor, partner, supporter etc.
  6. Do not use the words ‘Sponsor’, ‘Partner’ or ‘Supporter’ in your marketing campaign in relation to an event, unless you have been granted the rights by the event’s corporate body to do so.

If you follow these guidelines your ambush marketing should be safe from legal penalties, yet if you are unsure rather seek legal advice before the campaign is launched yet some might say that the legal fine for participating in ambush marketing is simply the fee paid to advertise with a mega event and draw publicity as it is a small fee in comparison to buying the rights to become an official sponsor. To gain brand awareness and have a successful ‘ambush’ marketing campaign ad agencies and marketing teams need to be innovative and creative in their approach to their campaigns as the results of a successful campaign are: brand awareness, breaking through the clutter of other advertising messages, ‘link/ties’ to a mega event in the consumers mind without having to pay the heavy fee of being an official sponsor as the line between being an official and unofficial sponsor in the consumers mind is blurred if your advertising approach is right. Another advantage is gaining publicity, Buzz marketing or Word-of-mouth marketing*, exposure and gaining a competitive advantage over your competitors. “Only imagination ultimately limits the possibilities for ambushing, making it difficult for event owners and corporate sponsors to protect themselves from hostile competitive activity”. 2

Ambush strategies or methods that can be used by a company: 5

1) Sponsoring media coverage of the event

2) Sponsoring a subcategory of the event and aggressively supporting that investment

3) Purchasing advertising around the event that may take two distinct forms:

a) Themed advertising or

b) Traditional advertising around the event

4) Sponsoring contributions to the player bonus pools

5) Creating special opportunities, such as giving away licensed souvenirs or trips to the event’s host country, running congratulatory ads, or creating imaginative tie-ins.

As more ambush marketing has occurred over the years and with sponsors paying a large fee for their sponsorship right attitudes to ambush marketing have become more harsh.2 Ambush marketing has been defined as:

“The unauthorised association by businesses with an event through any one or more of a wide range of marketing activities. It is a company’s intentional efforts to weaken, or ambush, its competitor’s “official” sponsorship. It does this by engaging in promotions or advertising that trade off the event or property’s goodwill and reputation, and that seeks to confuse the buying public as to which company really holds official sponsorship rights”. 2

Yet there is a growing understanding that ambush marketing is not an ad hoc activity, but a well planned creative and innovative effort to expose the companies brand and to link the brand to the event and thus gain the benefits associated with being a ‘sponsor’ or weaken the impact of a main competitor who is an official sponsor. Some see it as “neutralising the competitive advantage by confusing the consumer as to who the legitimate sponsor of an event is…There is a weak minded view that competitors have a moral obligation to step back and allow an official sponsor to reap all the benefits from a special event . . . (competitors have) not only a right but an obligation to shareholders to take advantage of such events”.2

Ambush Marketing that took place during the World Cup 2010:

  1. Nike on Adidas
  2. Pepsi on Coca Cola
  3. Bavaria on Budweiser
  4. Kulula on Emirates Airline
  5. Coo-ee on Coca Cola

Strategic Advertising Campaigns: (That reaped the capital rewards from their successful campaigns)

  1. SAB (VS Budweiser)
  2. Nando’s (VS Mac Donalds)
  3. Jockey
  4. FNB
  5. Sibaya

Campaigns to create brand awareness:

When faced with restrictions by consumers who have a zero tolerance to advertising, other means of creating brand awareness need to be utilised to get your message across to your target audience.

Ambush marketing is an alternative to formal sponsorship and is used by companies that either do not have the funds to be an official sponsor or who could not become one as there is only one official sponsor in each product category. Ambush marketing is an attempt by a company or brand to associate itself with an event or sponsored activity without gaining formal rights to do so.2 FIFA has put into place harsh by-laws to protect its official sponsors from ambush marketing. Yet there is a debate on whether ambush marketing results in a weakening of the impact of an official sponsor’s marketing activities or that ambush marketing is a creative and strategic marketing tactic to try capitalise on a mega event, such as the FIFA World Cup 2010.



To enable your brand to stand out from competitors and to break through the advertising clutter an Ambush marketing campaign might do just that.

Ambush marketing is when a brand that is not an official sponsor of a specific event, such as the FIFA World Cup 2010 or any other sporting tournament or music festival, carries out marketing activities in an attempt to create an association with that specific event and/or to take advantage of the status or image of the event, without being an official sponsor and thus without paying a sponsorship fee to do so, or without the event owner’s permission.

Event owners or corporate bodies of these mega events such as FIFA, react aggressively to ambush marketing. As they need to protect the value of their own commercial rights in the event, and to protect their official sponsors who pay millions to be a sponsor, especially if the official sponsor is a direct competitor to the advertiser (unofficial sponsor brand).  Official sponsors pay a large sum for the exclusive rights to be officially associated with the event thus any brand that tries to link itself to the event needs to be punished in the eye of the event owner.
Why can ambush marketing be unlawful?

Ambush marketing can infringe the event owner’s trade marks, copyright and other intellectual property rights in relation to the event. This is unlawful and can give the event owner grounds to sue the advertiser, which was evident in the Soccer World Cup Event 2010.
In some countries, creating a false or misleading association with an event can also constitute unlawful or unfair competition and/or it can breach advertising regulations. For example FIFA insisted that South Africa had to put advertising by-laws into place if they wished to host the World Cup 2010 in their country and as it was such an honour to host such an event South Africa obliged with open arms, yet the logic is changing your constitution to suit a corporate body like FIFA is quite a leap considering our country which has more important things to concentrate on than advertising by-laws and suppression of local brand who do not have the finances to be an official sponsor in comparison to the international mega brands.
Therefore it is becoming increasingly common for special laws to be introduced in countries where major events are being held, which give event owners additional protection by making it unlawful to carry out certain ambush marketing activities which would otherwise be permitted under the general law. Sometimes, these laws can even make ambush marketing a criminal offence.1