The city as a marketing platform

The city is dynamic and an inexhaustible source of people and stories. It is both loved and loathed and it provides a stage for art, culture, architecture and design. Also, an increasing number of companies are discovering the city. Not just as a place to set up office, but also as a platform for marketing campaigns. However, the city often forgets to promote itself: Urban guerrilla marketing versus guerrilla city marketing.



Although the best examples are not from the Netherlands, more and more Dutch companies do use the city as a platform for guerrilla marketing stunts Budget hotel Hans Brinker is a classic example. To get publicity for the hotel, hundreds of toothpick flags were placed in dog turds in 2007. The message on the flags read: “Now even more of this at our entrance”. This daring stunt caught a lot of attention and publicity.


Ka-ching!

The Dutch supermarket chain Dirk van den Broek invented the mobile till in 2005. This lorry with built-in till was often found standing in front of competitor Albert Heijn during the supermarket price war. Customers could enter the lorry and let their Albert Heijn groceries be scanned, so that they could find out what the same products would have cost at Dirk's.

Pigs in the Zuidas

Although companies know how to use the city for their guerrilla stunts, the cities themselves could make more of their own potential. City marketing is a relatively new field and guerrilla city marketing has hardly ever been used. One of the few examples is a unique stunt in the Zuidas in Amsterdam. On 4 October 2010, this aloof business centre put itself in the spotlight in an original and congenial way. Corn was sown on a temporarily undeveloped area right in the heart of the business centre. On World Animal Day, pigs were allowed to roam the area and feast on the harvest. There are dozens of possibilities like this for the city. Both inhabitants and visitors would welcome surprise stunts initiated, in particular, by the city. www.hetbeloofdevarkensland.nl

Guerrilla marketing is...

“...striking at an unexpected moment in an unexpected way. Original, unconventional and unpredictable. Gaining sympathy by creating a 'wow' effect. It is a shortcut to the heart of customers!”


Cor Hospes, guerrilla marketeer

Top 3 Urban Guerrilla marketing:
1. Snow logos in London
2. Picnic Valhalla in New York
3. Homeless stunt in Paris

1

Sports TV Station Extreme Channel used a London snowstorm to launch a street marketing campaign in 2009. In just one day, 350 snowy hot spots all over the city were marked with the familiar logo of the TV station.

Top 3 Urban Guerrilla marketing:
1. Snow logos in London
2. Picnic Valhalla in New York
3. Homeless stunt in Paris

2

In 2006, Ikea transformed New York City into a picnic Valhalla. Thousands of blankets and picnic baskets gave the city a surrealistic feel. An enclosed card read: “Good design can make the everyday a little better”.

Top 3 Urban Guerrilla marketing:
1. Snow logos in London
2. Picnic Valhalla in New York
3. Homeless stunt in Paris

The French humanitarian organization Médecins du Monde put up three hundred tents along the Seine in 2008. The tents made Parisians aware that lots of people in their city have to spend the night out on the streets.

3

Flash mob against cutbacks broadcasting costs

This autumn, 150 musicians surprised railway passengers at The Hague Central Station. All of a sudden, cheerful musicians appeared from amongst the grey masses and started playing the Mambo from West Side Story. They used this stunt to protest against the possible shutdown of the Music Centre of the Dutch public broadcasting corporation.

Half-naked protest against bullfighting

Your average protest campaign no longer gets very much attention. That is why even protesters apply Guerrilla tactics. Hundreds of people protested against bullfighting in Bilbao, Madrid and Pamplona last year; they were half-naked and covered in 'blood'. Twelve thousand bulls are killed in Spain every year.

The Truth About Amsterdam

The short film The Truth about Amsterdam is quite the guerrilla performance. This Amsterdam guerrilla marketing stunt forced the Fox talk show host Bill O'Reilly to eat his words. In his programme, the American O'Reilly had declared Amsterdam to be an unsafe, criminal and anarchist drug city. In the short film, which got more than 300,000 views online, the makers show the pleasant and beautiful sides of Amsterdam. Besides that, they put the Americans in their place with harsh facts on American versus Dutch drug abuse.