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Successful Street Marketing – the Element of Surprise

One of the key elements of successful street marketing is the element of surprise. Think back to times you were involved in a routine activity or surroundings and something unexpected happened that impacted one of your senses – it made a lasting impression! Now if that impression is associated with a brand you have created a successful experiential marketing effort that will yield a high ROI.

The following examples are passive in terms of requiring audience participation; however the imagery is powerful when presented in a routine environment.


The goal here was two-fold when it comes to the “Think” part of the guerilla marketing process of these campaign examples. First the creators had to capitalize on the environment that was a suitable routine to disrupt by utilizing everyday items such as bus shelters, benches, walls, etc. In terms of creating a script, think about the routine that your desired audience participates in and where, when, and how the moment is going to be delivered. Second, there had to be a “shock” value so the audience would make the desired association when they were once again involved in that everyday routine. The primary question was “what do we want this person to think about the next time they are doing this?” This is also the time to strategize what comes before (if anything) and leading up to the campaign. Does it tie into any other media support? Are there follow up steps or sequences that can expand the story and draw the audience deeper or is it a one off campaign?


In order for a passive experience to be effective it has to invoke an immediate emotional connection and association with the subject matter when the audience comes into contact – the “shock” value. In the following examples the creators utilized the everyday surroundings as the “set” taking into account the visual surroundings and the state of emotion that the participant would be experiencing while performing the action.


The first example comes from UNICEF in Finland. The organization wanted to raise the level of awareness with the Finnish people of the plight of some 145 million orphans or abandoned children throughout the world.

14 baby strollers were placed in major cities throughout Finland – and left alone – as though they were abandoned. A recording of a baby crying was playing inside the stroller. People who approached the stroller to investigate were greeted with the message “Thank you for caring, we hope there are more people like you. UNICEF Be a mom for a moment.”


The result? All major TV networks, radio, and web media reported on the campaign. It was estimated that 80% of all Fins were aware of the campaign within 48 hours.


In Johannesburg South Africa the plight of hungry children is particularly daunting. Posters were placed inside shopping carts to demonstrate to consumers how easy it is to feed the hungry by donating a can of food while they are shopping.

Think Again

Both of these campaigns were extremely effective in introducing a “shock value” into everyday surroundings that had an instant connection with an emotion – thus leaving a lasting impression. There were also immediate calls to action that the audience could act upon. The images went viral.

Once a campaign has been delivered the success can be exponentially expanded by launching a second time through social media documenting the reaction of the people who experienced the initial campaign. People love to watch other people’s reactions to situations because they like to compare them to their own generating further traction for the message.

- Written by Keith Andrews -