The New Old Weapons of Advertising

Reality is shifting quickly and a careful approach is needed in order to attract consumers’ attention

The New Old Weapons of Advertising

Снимка: Unsplashed

Автор: Toni Grigorova

When a person views an ad for the first time, they don’t see it. The second time, they don’t notice it. The third time, they realise that it exists. The fourth time they think that they might have seen it. The fifth time, they cast a glance at it. Then, they say to themselves: “Not this damn thing again!” And only after they see it for the twentieth time, they buy the product. This is how the effect of advertising communication is normally described.

Manufacturers and marketers are always looking for ways to draw the attention of their clients and make them buy. And today, some working methods will be needed, no matter what kind.


This is a constant question that receives different answers. These might range from traditional advertising to the craziest of ideas. After all, the colour of the cat is not important, if we only need it to catch mice.

Digital marketing specialists will try to convince you that colour is the most important thing to bet on. And when someone is making outdoor advertising, their arguments will be completely different – as long as most people are not under quarantine.

You will come across a proposal for “cheaper, but better working advertisement”, “low cost but surprisingly effective”, statements of “amazingly low prices”.  In the search of

innovative methods

for attracting the audience, Guerrilla marketing comes to the rescue. Of course, you can find publications in Bulgarian where it is called “gorilla”, but in translation it means “guerrilla” marketing. The term was first used in 1984 by the US marketer Jay Conrad Levinson in his book Guerrilla Marketing. His idea was inspired by guerrilla warfare – a type of warfare with unusual tactics for achieving the goals. And when it comes to advertising, this is a strategy that aims to present the product/service in an unconventional way with as little budget as possible. But everything is relative, and that is why what was initially defined as “the smallest budget” may turn out not that small. Sometimes, the cost for this “cheap” marketing turns out to be too high and then, all this talking about how profitable it is to use such an approach is closer to the “gorillas” than to the guerrillas. But… we are once again in times of maximum cost optimization.

IBM is a veteran in

non-traditional advertising

and one of the biggest investors in Linux – the open-source operating system. In 2000, the company announced it would invest USD 1 billion in technology development. One of their advertising campaigns was called “Peace, Love, Linux” and included graffiti drawn in different cities, among them San Francisco, Chicago and New York. But this graffiti thing went too far and the San Francisco municipal government imposed a fine of USD 100,000. The company also had to pay another USD 20,000 for cleaning the graffiti and for lawyers’ fees. The tech giant achieved broad media coverage, which probably justified the fine and the unexpected costs. Graffiti is a popular way in guerrilla marketing, however, it can be considered as vandalism and, therefore, be punishable.

Such a strategy would make sense if, using scarce resources in a very clever way, it manages to cause a

wow effect

and to grab the attention of a wide range of potential customers so strongly that the majority of them start buying.

The main tool in the “guerrilla” approach is imagination and this type of marketing is most common on the streets, in malls, parks and at the beaches, or more generally, where many people are exposed to the advertising. The new situation has shown that guerrilla marketing needs to adapt to every situation, and, by employing smart ideas, be able to reach people who, for example, stay at home in front of their computers and continue to have even more specific consumption. And it is now quite obvious that marketers and advertisers should

generate ideas

that are applicable even in critical situations. In order for the impact of the “guerrilla” ads to be really big, they are often made with serious investment. The “creative part” also has its price, and really good ideas are usually expensive. They may even be the most expensive part of the whole campaign, which is not cheap at all. Here is an example – metal manhole covers imitating branded cookies. And if something doesn’t make passers-by look down, it could just be an investment in manhole covers. Of course, such a campaign will be combined with other advertising channels in order to achieve wide impact. We have entered a phase where marketing needs to carefully encourage consumption when the economy restarts.

We are witnessing how reality can shift rather quickly. Marketers and advertisers need new “weapons” that might also be well-tuned old ones. Several approaches might be pretty helpful: Responsibility, Provocation, Surprise, Fun, Boldness. In times of uncertainty and crisis, fear is the most powerful weapon, but better not pull its trigger.

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