• June 2014

Four Novel Approaches to Guerrilla Marketing

By Patrick Walsh
AirSign Inc.

With the continuing evolution of media consumption, it has become increasingly challenging for an advertiser to both capture and hold an audience’s attention.

A decade or two ago, media was relatively consolidated; advertisers knew they could reach a significant segment of their targeted audience via newspapers and television commercials, which almost seems quaint today.

We now live in what academics call the Age of Choice, where reaching a broad audience and funneling their attention to a business has become trickier than ever.

In the past, guerrilla marketing—the unconventional and creative use of traditional marketing tools such as stickers, print ads, and billboards—has been an effective means of jolting public awareness. Today, however, innovation in guerrilla techniques is essential. From flash mobs to viral marketing campaigns, successful advertising requires new twists and surprising uses of old tools and strategies.

Here are four of the latest cutting-edge ideas, which—just like the “Mad Men” campaigns of old—are as much art as advertising.

  • Reverse graffiti: Also called “clean tagging,” this is built on the old joke of etching “Wash Me!” with a forefinger on a dirty car. The technique started with artists in urban areas who didn’t want to deface public buildings, sidewalks and subways with spray paint. Instead, they etched designs and messages in encrusted dirt and soot by actually cleaning off some of the grime. Miller Brewing Company, Greenpeace, and Vans are among the companies that have used reverse graffiti.

  • Aerial messages: Creativity has revived a very old form of advertising: skywriting and sky banners. The trick today is to surprise and delight the audience, so everyone who sees the display feels like they’re getting a private show. For example, AirSign, Inc. recently executed a showstopper at this year’s South by Southwest, a set of film, interactive, and music festivals and conferences that take place every year in Austin, Texas. AirSign worked with artist ISHKY to pull off a media stunt on the eve of Pi Day, March 14, with five synchronized aircraft spelling out the first few hundred digits in pi’s infinite sequence. The sequence begins with 3.14, thus the synchronicity with March 14—aka 3/14. The air signage earned widespread media attention, and under the Twitter handle #PiInTheSky, became the top trending topic.
  • Light projection advertising: Light projection campaigns, driven by 3D-Mapping, CGI, and the wealth of online resources available today, enable the delivery of creative visual content and information to multiple locations in high-traffic urban areas, spurring consumer interest in an advertiser’s brand or cause.
  • Moss art: In case you haven’t noticed, green—both the idea and the color —has become a prevalent theme in today’s advertising culture. Taking green to the next level, DIY-ers and small-business owners have begun creating signage with moss. It’s the perfect match for farmers and retailers of organic products. After meticulously combining the necessary recipe, including clumps of moss, buttermilk, water, sugar, and corn syrup, small-business owners simply paint the blended material onto a wall. After waiting several days to a few weeks and spraying the painted area with water, moss lettering appears.

About Patrick Walsh

A a veteran entrepreneur, Patrick Walsh is the CEO of AirSign Inc., which uses giant, full-color airplane and helicopter banners, skywriting, digital night signs, and blimps to produce show-stopping advertising campaigns. The company recently received global recognition for its artistic skywriting display of several hundred pi characters over the 2014 South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.