The Faithful Marriage of Guerrilla and
Online Marketing

by Drew Neisser

Like most marriages, the integration of offline and online marketing fails more often than not. Bending to the will of the union rather than the strengths of the individual components, most integrated campaigns implode upon themselves failing to present a unique brand experience across media. Adding guerrilla marketing to the mix offers a ray of hope to this otherwise gloomy reality, effectively bridging the offline and online divide, providing the cosmic glue for a faithful interdisciplinary marriage.

In successful marriages, each partner carries their own weight complementing the other while bringing something unique to the table. This is exactly the case when guerrilla and online programs come together. Guerrilla programs break the ice with the consumer, tantalizing the prospect into wanting to learn more. Guerrilla programs refuse to be ignored and naturally provoke conversation. Online programs are particularly adept at maintaining the relationship started by the guerrilla program but can extend it to a far deeper level. Online programs put the consumer in charge, letting them self-direct the relationship, finding out as much or as little as they see fit. Once joined, guerrilla and online are blissfully hard to tear asunder, as you will see in the cases that follow.

When Bluefly wanted to get new customers to their website, they put this powerful combo to work. Selling designer clothes at discount prices, this online retailer needed to attract and convert a large number of “fashionistas” at a cost per acquisition below $20. Anchored by an online sweepstakes that offered 12 highly coveted Hermes bags, they needed an offline guerrilla program that could start the buzz and spread the word cost effectively. To do this, Renegade enlisted a bevy of beauties to stroll down the high fashion avenues of New York, LA and Miami, asking women "what they would do for a Birkin Bag?" Because the Hermes Birkin Bag is notoriously hard to get and hideously expensive (between $5,000 & $50,000), an amazing number of women responded on camera. Their answers became the core of video news release that was picked up in over 200 markets generating over 19 million PR impressions. At the end of the 3-month program, over 160,000 new prospects had registered on Bluefly.com. Using their strong online relationship building techniques, Bluefly was then able to convert nearly 10% of the registrants into new customers at a cost per acquisition well below goal.

In the Bluefly example, their website was the ultimate destination, the place where the sale could be closed. This is not always the case. Yet even in these circumstances the guerrilla online marriage can thrive as long as the online experience faithfully extends its offline companion. Recently, HSBC launched the BankCab program in New York City, providing tangible proof that it is indeed “the world’s local bank”. Driven by the BankCabbie, the winner of a highly publicized contest for the Big Apple’s Savviest Cabbie, the BankCab delivers an unforgettable brand experience. By offering free rides to customers in a beautifully restored Checker Cab, lucky passengers have sworn lifetime allegiance to HSBC and told all their friends about the “most amazing thing that just happened to them.” Not everyone can ride the cab but millions of New Yorkers see it daily, so BankCab.com plays a critical role in extending the offline program message. Here, visitors can learn more about the program, browse the BankCabbie Restaurant Guides that offer further proof of HSBC’s local knowledge and, of course, find out more about HSBC.

Sometimes, the guerrilla experience is the set up man for an even more elaborate online relationship. This is the case for the "Save Your Summer" program, a fully integrated offline/online promotion Panasonic recently launched. The offline experience starts with one of three converted ambulances called "Fun Emergency Vehicles". Attendees perform karaoke and immediately receive a freshly pressed DVD of their performance much to their amazement. But as impressed as they are, few will buy right away. Panasonic research indicates that a significant percentage of consumers visit the web to review product specs before buying. That's why there are computers at each event for name capture as well as collateral that drives consumers to www.panasonic.com/sys where they can enter the Save Your Summer sweepstakes. Here consumers can learn more about specific products and even find themselves in a parallel universe called PeopleAgainstFun.org. The online experience extends the offline one, allowing the consumer to get as much info as they need, further building their relationship with the brand and ultimately helping to close the sale. Another faithful offline-online union that found lasting happiness in a world of discord. If only real life marriages enjoyed such success.


Drew Neisser is the President & CEO of Renegade Marketing Group. Like a classic hand saw, Renegade Marketing has a distinctive knack for cutting through the baloney that impedes success. Renegade is a sanctuary for unconventional thinking, devoted to finding fresh approaches to age-old marketing problems.

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