Guerrilla marketing refers to an advertising approach that emphasis on low-cost unconventional strategies that are known toyield maximal results. This advertising method relies profoundly on alternative marketing techniques, often characterized by great imagination and high energy (Ashley, M. 2012, 1). Small businesses must have to utilize a different set of products and services promoting strategies and tactics as compared to large companies because of the lack of or possession of minimum resources. Guerrilla marketing entails unusual tactics like street freebies of products; interrupt encounters in public places, pubic relation stunts, or any unorthodox marketing geared towards gettingoptimal results with the use of minimal resources. More inventivemethods to Guerrilla marketing now make use of mobile digital technologies to involve the customers and create an unforgettable brand experience. This marketing strategy is a low-costonethat makes it ideal for firms that do not have substantialbudgets for marketing (Levinson, J. 2013, 32). So many small businesses can select other media and work with alow marketing budget. Guerrilla marketing is appropriate only when proper and acceptable content is marketed. Its success highly depends on how it is socially acceptable and maturity in it rather than vulgarity in its ideas.
This marketing strategy has been proven in action to work formany small businesses (“Ways of Using Guerrilla Marketing in SMEs”, 2015, 2). Its operational simplicity makes it simple to understand, implement and alsovery affordable. Guerilla marketing comes in handy because: People across the world are moving towards running small businesses in significant numbers. This is because, of late, there has been downsizing and devolution of big companies, relaxation of government rules and regulations, proliferation of affordable technology, and an upheaval in economic consciousness (Levinson, J. 2012, 41). There is also a failure of small business has at many times been attributed to a failure to understand marketing and guerilla marketing is known to be among the simplest marketing strategies to implement. Guerilla marketing works because it is very simple to understand, implement and affordable (Semenik, R. 2012, 6)
Aggressive guerrilla marketing has however brushed off consumers and marketing players differently. Sometimes, marketers employ vulgar, and privacy invasion techniques, shove products into prospective customers faces in total disregard of ethical and cultural norms. This paper delves into this issue and attempts to establish if and how marketers exploit aggressive cut-throat guerilla marketing, how these techniques are misused and whether this marketing strategy can still be used effectively within ethical boundaries
Why marketers need guerilla marketing as an appropriate marketing tool
This marketing strategy is a more flexible one in comparison to the other methods. The nature of guerilla marketing is an unconventional one, a character that gives it the ability to overcome the barriers inherent in the traditional marketing techniques. It enables the company to respond to changes in financial fluctuations when it is adopted. Marketers who work with small organizations that do not possess huge marketing budgets can exploit the Low-cost nature of the strategy. Celebrities’ endorsements are usually very expensive to procure, and so are mainstream media advertisement rates.
A great feature of Guerilla Marketing is its versatility. This means that the strategy cannot only be used on tangible products but also on intangible products like services. For instance, a dentist can use this strategy in a very affordable way by displaying teeth and gums made out of cut paper. As people pass by the advertisement, they are made aware of such services, and they can tear off a displayed “tooth” on which the dentist’s phone and address number is inscribed. They can use these contact details to get to the dentist.This is just an example of how valuable and simple guerilla marketing is. There are many other benefits of this marketing approach.
Marketers can exploit many advantages with guerilla marketing. Besides the technique being cheap to implement and easy to understand, Guerilla Marketing helps marketers network, with customers and other businesses. In the process of conducting the guerilla marketing process, the marketer gets the opportunity to make new friends and allies, which is good for business. Guerilla Marketing precisely tailored to handle small business’s needs (Kinde, G. 2013, 1). Traditional methods of advertising are expensive to run and complicated to understand. However, this marketing technique is usually prone to misuse and abuse. This puts into question the ability of marketers not overstepping their mandates in when practicing the art due to the freedom given by guerilla marketing.
Ethical Issues common to guerilla marketing
This marketing method can help a marketer make a product brand more memorable. Guerilla adverts are known to be all consuming and shocking. Most people who come across these advertisements are most likely going to remember the name. They become more familiar with the essence of such products. Getting to understand the culture of the market that is being targeted can help a marketer narrow down the ideas for a guerrilla advert. For instance, some companies place their guerilla adverts in the middle of city streets that are full of tourists and locals. This is usually a perfect opportunity of a photo op and for the people passing by the adverts to interact with the brand being publicized.
However, Guerilla marketing is known to go into certain sensitive aspects of socialrules, logic. These instances here highlight when guerilla marketing may be misused:
Guerrilla marketing is usually appropriate, only if the contentthat is used to in the commercialization practice is proper and suitable. Attimes, thematerial may summonmoral policing if, for instance, marketers use gory images of, say, wartimes or bloodshed (Urbanist, 2008, 1). The target of the item or service being marketedis supposed to get the message with a similar objective. If there exist anyinterpretation lapses, then theefficiency of advertisement is reduced.Marketers attempt to look for the best way possible to display their messages in the most understandable format to their clients. They also try to use a way that elicits the client’s urge to buy the product. However, this should not be allowed to be the impetus to use unacceptable imagery of brutality and goriness.
Marketers sometimes useMisleading and false and information in their advertisements to attain their goal. They misuse the openness of guerilla marketing when doing this.Another major issue is the use of false andpointblankuntruthful advertisements (Atkinson, C. 2004, 3).This in itself is avital ethical matter, another perspective to this is the query of credibility of the products and services being advertised. Sometimes, one may find advertisements that blatantly compare the characteristics of their brands with those of their competitors in the newspaper columns. Referring to the viewof ‘specialists’, theseads claim thattheir brandsarequalitatively and quantitatively better than those of their competitors (Thomas, C. 2010, 5). An example is an incident in India where atopcar manufacturerhad toenditsadvertisement campaignwhen itwronglystatedthata car model that it manufacturedwas superior to their competitor’s model. Information Authenticity is an important aspect of marketing.Marketers should not jeopardize the future business chances of a company making allegations about their products, claims that cannot be substantiated (Navrátilová, L.& František M. 2011, 27).They should ensure that the information that they release to the public is correctand immune against any degree of being disapproved. Once doubt has been cast about the information published by a marketer about a product, the impact on the product or the company that manufactures this product is usually long lasting.A business may suffer from the adverse effect of such an eventuality.This is why publication of any form of falsehoods about a product should be avoided at all costs.
When employing aggressive cutthroat marketing campaigns, marketers can get to a point where they use anything to attract the attention of potential clients. They may use ads that display action, images, videos and visuals that depict brutal or deadly acts. This is an aspect of guerilla marketing misuse that is not good for society. Some situations that are put in the context of brutality are ads for products associated with motor vehicles and motorcycles. Cars or bikes drove at a high speed or depictions of many dead peoplestrewn on theroad after accidents are such contentthat marketers. For instance, speed governor manufacturers may display to create awareness of their products.
In other cases, marketers may make use of negative emotionslike fear and anger to bait people into buying their goods. Using fear as a method ofappealscan result in murky communication if employedpersistently for a lengthy period. The use of negative emotions by the marketers is one of the most common misuses of guerilla marketing familiar to many marketers.This is an aspect thatmust be negligibleand can be used only whenvery necessary. Emotions are human issues that should not be exploited wrongly and doing this for profits is anexceedingly unethical practice that brushes against the norms of society. Marketers can enjoy working with guerilla marketing techniques without using people’s emotions.
Marketers are also known to create significant distractions through the utilization of these marketing techniques.Marketers have been found to place anadvertisement in the most unusual locations. They select areaswhere peopledon’t expect to see advertisements. Such places may be the inside of washrooms, under bridges, hanging from theceilings or bus seats armrests, paintingsonpublicwalls or stunts performed in public areas. Visibility of a product is crucial, but it is equally important for marketers to avoid invasion of personal privacy by the creation of distractions to achieve this (Tugayeva, M. 2015, 3).Many of such incidents that are known to cause distractions lead to or have a high propensity for causing accidents. Accidents may occur for instance when a person is interrupted abruptly while he or she, for example, crossing the road. Marketers can enjoy the advantages of using guerilla tactics in their marketing strategies, but they can do this by carefully considering the venue, method, and the appropriate time they communicate their messages. This way, they can benefit from these tactics. At the same time, they can reduce the chances that hatred of their companies and brandsresulting from accidents caused by their activities is kept at bay. This isother means by which marketers abuse the freedom and cheapness offered by guerilla marketing techniques.
Marketers also have a tendency to ignore the fact that children get exposed to inappropriate content in some of their advertisements.Therearenoadvertisementfiltersandchildrengetexposedtosome ads that may not be appropriate for them. For instance, advertisements of deodorants and cologne may at times depict images of nudity, profanity or levels of explicitness. Also, such ads get aired during prime-time hours when everyone including children iswatching the television. The contentsuch are usually not suitable for children.This is another way that Guerilla marketing gets abused in the attempt of gaining publicity for their products. Acceptability of particular content in society is a major issue that is usually overlooked by marketers.For instance, questionsstraddling along the lines of live-in relationships orsomeissues like one-night standsare rarely socially acceptable in any society. When advertisements target such issues, social acceptance is lost. Racial or color discrimination oriented issues also put across the wrong message if not properly structured when using them to attract attention.
Marketers employ underhand techniques to beat regulations. For instance, the use of surrogate Advertisements. In many countries, alcohol and cigarette advertisements get thoroughly regulated or banned. However, marketers get a way to maneuver the regulations and produce subtle or subliminal messages by employing surrogate advertisementsfor pressingforward their messages. Suchmessages that are craftily hidden in adverts point towardsthe realdeal and are usually enough to get the message across for they leave no ambiguity in their minds (Brock, T. 2009, 1)
Marketers are also known to engage in unhealthy competition: Many companies attempt to adapt to guerilla marketing and cutthroat advertisement as marketing strategy but itat times ultimatelyleads to unhealthy competition due to the point that it is usually a low-cost approach. If all the marketersdisplaycontent that is not acceptable to all stakeholders, thecompetitionwill include, itleads to unhealthy competition.This affirms the fact that, marketers can go out aggressively and use cut throat guerilla marketing techniques. There are however, ethical issues that have to be kept in mind when structuring marketing campaigns. If the marketers keep in mind these issues and find ways to work within the acceptable bounds, they can exploit the advantages that accompany this cheap, simple and efficient marketing method (Ferrell, O. C. & John F. 2009, 25).
While marketers may be attempting to exploit the advantages inherent in guerilla marketing, they may encounter scenarios where they are compelled to breach ethical norms to push their agenda. The primary goal of guerilla advertisement is to increase customer interest and awareness of products and their associated brand. Acceptability of a guerilla advertisement is usually related to what it aims to achieve rather than it’s the method by which it achieves this. While there are good, examples of successful guerilla-marketing strategies that were conducted, marketers prepare and execute some guerilla advertising implementations without looking to not breach certain boundaries. This often leads to ethical issues.
As mentioned in the paper, advertisements that entail the use of fear to compel or appeal to clients to purchase certain products and services, strategies that irritate the prospective customers and distract their attention from important matters, are usually problematic breach ethical norms. Public dislike of any advert may lead to the elimination of the goodwill (Newsom, D. & Turk, and J. 2013, 10). This reduces the effectiveness of the advertisements, both short-term and long-term. Such miscalculations may also lead to adislike of a whole company’s adverts, having an adverse impact on future advertisements from such a company. Marketers should push to exploit the advantages of guerilla marketing, such as affordability and simplicity.
They should also continue searching for creative means to connect with the clients, but they should be careful to implement these new strategies in a very responsible manner. This is because; the ethical acceptability of guerilla adverts is measured by the consequences it brings about. Companies should have their moral policing controls in their marketing departments, among others, and they should present unique ideas to the market without having to go overboard the ethical thresh-hold. This way, marketers can go on andboost their capacity and practice by accessing the advantages that come with guerilla marketing if they successfully get new ideas or they overcome the urge to cross ethical boundaries.
Companies try to reach the private worlds of consumers. They give them remember-able experiences with their brands with guerrilla marketing methods. One of the major guerrilla marketing tools, guerrilla advertising, is known to get the attention of prospective customers but at times comes off as irritating and annoying to the consumers. It even goes further to break even the law. In this study, the ethical aspects involved are explored by evaluating different the advantages of guerilla advertising strategies to marketers and how these strategies are often abused. The assessment gathered that there exist some ethical issues about some implementations which guerrilla does advertising. The advertisement is a major point of focus. They may include the fear appeal, may irritate or disappoint people. This strategy is also accompanied by attention distraction as another critical ethical problem.
While these types of guerrilla adverts may diminish the effectiveness of advertisements and spur dislike of a company’s adverts and products, it may also lead to biased responses towards future adverts. Legal, ethical, and societal thresh-holds should be taken into account when running guerilla ads. In total, today’s marketers should take greater care and responsibility for the adverse impacts that result from poor practices in guerilla advertising
Atkinson, C. 2004 “Marketers Weigh Efficacy and Ethics of Guerilla Efforts.” Advertising Age News RSS. 16 Feb. 2004. Web. 29 May 2015. <http://adage.com/article/news/marketers-weigh-efficacy-ethics-guerilla-efforts/97707/>.
Brock, T. 2009 “Be Very Quiet, There’s a Guerrilla Marketing to You.” Educational Marketing Group, Inc. 5 Aug. 2009. Web. 29 May 2015.
Ferrell, O. C., and John Fraedrich. 2010 Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases: 2009 Update. 7th ed. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning. Print.
Kinde, G. 2013 “Why Small Businesses Should Use Guerilla Marketing.” Why Small Businesses Should Use Guerilla Marketing. www.digett.com, 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 29 May 2015. <http://www.digett.com/blog/09/24/2013/why-small-businesses-should-use-guerilla-marketing>.
Levinson, J. C. 2011 Guerrilla Marketing Remix: The Best of Guerrilla Marketing. Irvine: Jere L. Calmes. Print.
Levinson, J. C. 2013 Guerrilla Marketing Field Guide: 30 Powerful Battle Maneuvers for Non-stop Momentum and Results. Irvine, CA: Entrepreneur. Print.
Manker, A. 2012 “What Is Guerrilla Marketing? – Definition, Strategies & Examples.” What Is Guerrilla Marketing? 7 Feb. 2012. Web. 29 May 2015. <http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-guerrilla-marketing-definition-strategies-examples.html>.
Navrátilová, L. and František Milichovský. 2011 Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy. New York: Crown Business. Print.