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Generating buzz about brands

If advertising and consumers are in an arms race then the consumer is way ahead. Consumers have become immune to run-of-the-mill advertising, only paying attention to the truly captivating or mind-blowing. Why? Because most advertising is one-way and tells people what to do. Consumers have changed, writes BlueberryFrog's Heather Fullerton.

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They now require brands to prove why they are relevant to them and speak to them in their language -- guerrilla marketing and the many media it works across has emerged as the champion to get people buzzing about brands and products.

Smart marketers are realising that guerrilla marketing can flatter, interest, entertain and engage consumers, or at least raise a smile. It's about appealing to emotions that move us to an action such as awe and excitement, or issues we can identify with. These are forces that shift culture and change the way people see things -- think of how The Beatles and the Stones articulated the attitude of a generation and changed the world. Today, these changes in thinking happen faster and faster, and it's these mini-revolutions that guerrilla taps into.

Guerrilla marketing suffers from a lack of understanding by those marketers who perceive it as cheap, illegal or just about stickering and flyposting. Wrong. Guerrilla marketing brings strategic and innovative thinking to every execution to make it relevant and fresh, and ultimately to attain the Holy Grail of "word of mouth". This defers to traditional advertising, in that the targeting can be more accurate, happen faster and is free to use any media that will speak to people directly.

Brands such as Europcar, MSN, Cap Gemini, Ikea and Levi's have successfully proved in the past few months that guerrilla marketing works. That you can create campaigns that are actively welcomed, talked about, and played with, rather than passively received or ignored. For all of TV's reach, the real action -- and interaction -- is on the ground.

Ikea turned a predictable store opening into a regional phenomenon by creating a brand fanatic called "Sven - the world's greatest IKEA fan." Sven camped outside the store at night, and during the day ran competitions and handed out flyers about the opening. The PR strategy to support the guerrilla activity saw him appear in print, on radio and even TV. But most importantly the public loved him; he is for those who met him a very positive association with Ikea. This was reflected in the store's sales being 10% higher than forecast. The goodwill for Ikea is immeasurable.

A massive manhunt across Europe using multiple media channels saw Microsoft relaunch its MSN portal and draw attention to its new search engine capability. The "Where's Hans?" campaign married contemporary culture with entertainment to generate twice as much brand awareness as the TV campaign, and an increase in traffic and service usage that was sustained after it ended.

This kind of buzz creation is not for every brand, it is for the bold and the innovative. Those that want to connect, engage and entertain consumers will succeed -- this is the new currency. BlueberryFrog creates buzz about brands across borders using guerrilla marketing, our campaigns target audiences not just in one country but across borders at the same time. Global brands should seek equality and relevance with consumers everywhere and should understand what ingredients help make a successful campaign. Although we have been known to break a few rules, here are a few we believe in religiously:

  • Campaigns must be authentic and credible -- even if it is a promotion.

  • Campaigns must be entertaining, engaging, surprising -- all three if possible.

  • Target precisely but with an ability to travel. A viral component can kick start the buzz.

  • Don't cheat or try to outsmart consumers -- they'll figure you out.

  • A campaign should always generate emotion.

    These are a just a few rules of thumb from the BlueberryFrog bible, but we also understand that it is important to treat each individual project differently according to its objectives. We do this by building project teams specific to each campaign -- people chosen from a worldwide network of specialists.

    It's through this unique approach that guerrilla marketing makes brands culturally relevant in people's lives by hitting them on the ground where they live, work and hang out. Creating buzz is all about using inventive and fresh new means of communications to break through consumers' ever-thickening walls of indifference.

    Heather Fullerton is strategy and managing director at BlueberryFrog.

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