A Guerilla Story, But Not Osama

May 2, 2011
I thought nothing could knock Kate and Prince William’s marriage off the front pages of every media outlet on the planet (except the North Korean Proletariat Daily Bugle), and we thank whatever benevolent force in the universe managed to do it. How many fancy hats could you stand to see sitting atop pompous British royals and hangers-on?
Many thought it would have been the scintillating Canadian federal election that would be the story to dominate media outlets across the globe. But if you really thought that you have a severe head wound. Well, then it could have been the deep and introspective film noir hailed by critics from Shanghai to Sao Paulo known as Fast Five, the colossal box office winner this past weekend that made many a Hollywood mogul richer and made Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson into poster boys for the non-professional athlete not yet indicted for steroid abuse. But again, you would have been wrong.

No, it was the unexpected announcement that the US Navy Seals had managed to neutralize their most wanted man, Osama bin Laden. In terms of news, that story came out of nowhere, guerrila-style, to dominate almost everything from Twitter to CNN the Facebook to school yards everywhere. So what does this have to do with the automotive industry that is so near and dear to my heart? Well, it was the only highly tenuous and tangential idea I could think of to link the theme word ‘guerilla’ with ‘automotive marketing’, my true passion. (I really couldn’t find a way to tie this to the Canadian election, but I tried.)

I came across a great article through Stumbleupon that showed 20 creative guerilla marketing campaigns and was surprised, nay, shocked that there were only two from the automotive domain. What exactly is guerilla marketing for the uninitiated? According to Marketingterms.com it is the “unconventional marketing intended to get maximum results from minimal resources.” In short, it’s when a company wants to leave a subtle but memorable message with the potential buyer in a way that isn’t TV, radio, or one of the usual channels we all know that assaults our senses.

Sadly in this list there were only two automotive companies that made the list and one of the two (Smart) is such a bit player in the North American market, you wonder why they even tried. But do give them credit for trying. The two Smart car ads are really interesting (no. 7 and 8) and they do give you a moment to think, once you have noticed them. The messages fit with the brand being quirky, standing out in an urban setting, and being in places you might not always think of.

The other car maker, you guessed it, is Mini. The brand that in my opinion took the helm away from VW as the masters of motoring marketing (nice alliteration, eh?). Mini created a brand from almost nothing as it was an old and virtually unknown quantity in North America. Through cunning, genius and sheer chutzpah, they managed to create a brand with such high value that women, men, teenagers, children, seniors, juniors, and everyone but one Irish woman I know think it’s a cool brand. Which makes the guerilla ad campaign in this list even more impressive. It’s an ad for a Mini sitting in a pile of garbage. Like a discarded giant screen TV box. Brilliant! Totally unexpected and really makes your head turn.

It’s a shame there weren’t more car makers in this list and I think it’s a missed opportunity for the car maketers to hawk their wares, if I may be so blunt. Hey car marketers, take the road less traveled and see the world in a different way. See a great ad below and the aforementioned list here: Stumbleupon

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