Are we Singaporeans too straight-laced to stomach marketing gags? Do we like our advertisements to be plain, direct, and in-your-face?
More importantly, are guerrilla marketing campaigns doomed to a hairy end?
By now, everybody would have heard, seen and spoken about the sighting of a "bear" rummaging through rubbish bins at Ulu Pandan. This was caught on video by a concerned member of the public and posted online (see below).
Fortunately, guerrilla marketing did have some successful local cases (at least from the awareness point of view), like the GMP Raffles Place Ghost. It not only garnered advertising and PR awards, but resulted in greater mindshare and top-of-mind-recall for the recruitment agency, with significant exposure on multiple media channels.
In case you've missed it, I attach the video below for your viewing pleasure.
What does this say about the success (or failure) of guerrilla and viral marketing efforts in Singapore? I've got some thoughts here.
First, it'll be interesting to see if the effects of bad press are truly detrimental to such campaigns. Whichever way you lean, you've got to admit that the buzz generated by the media has catapulted relatively unknown companies into the limelight - albeit for the wrong reasons. I do sometimes suspect if some of these "negative" outcomes were intentionally orchestrated by the perpetuators in the first place. Hmmmm...
Second, it is important for companies and brands to ensure that there are positive correlations between a marketing stunt and the brand's unique value proposition. Is there a link that the consumer can derive between a bear and a new brand of shaver? I like how "Anything" and "Whatever" did it, as their offering (serendipitous drink flavours) sit in well with the messages put forward in the campaign.
Third, consider the socio-cultural contexts of your customers and "publics" when launching a "shock and awe" campaign. Asian societies tend to be less forgiving of trickery, while a guerrilla marketing effort that tries too hard (but fails) is likely to be scorned in Western markets.
Finally, think carefully about the need for such initiatives in the first place. Most guerrilla, viral and buzz marketing endeavours have a relatively short life-span beyond their initial hype. Often, few would bother about them after the dust has settled - except perhaps for weird marketing and PR hacks like me!