A crafty guerrilla marketing campaign for soon-to-be-released horror movie It has been met with both delight and horror on social media, with users saying it was “awesomely creepy”.
On Sunday, a number of red balloons appeared attached to drainage grates around Sydney CBD, accompanied by a stencilled chalk note saying, “It is closer than you think”.
Social media users quickly cottoned on to the guerrilla marketing stunt for the movie adaptation of Stephen King’s famous It novel, involving Pennywise the clown, who is often seen holding a red balloon. A number of murals were also painted around Sydney featuring artist’s impressions of Pennywise’s face.
“Pretty cool marketing initiative for #ITMovie spotted in Sydney CBD this morning,” wrote one Twitter user.
— FilmInk (@filmink) September 3, 2017
— Diana DJ (@DianaDJ7) September 3, 2017
The initiative also received praise from advertising trade publications, with Mumbrella saying it was “impressed” with the guerrilla campaign.
Speaking to SmartCompany, product marketing manager at Village Roadshow Films Stacie Beeksma said creative agency Mr Glasses and guerrilla marketing agency Showtime Marketing were behind the campaign.
“Our strategy was to implement a disruptive campaign geared to generate anticipation of the release and establish a new generation of IT fans,” Beeksma says.
“The balloons on the drains was another disruption element executed by Showtime Marketing. Amazing that sometimes the simplest and cheapest ideas are the most effective.”
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Beeksma says marketing for films is “a combination of art and science” and while her team was hoping to create some buzz with the campaign, she said it is “never guaranteed”. The campaign is reportedly launching in Melbourne today.
Concerns were briefly risen by some on Twitter over the environmental impact of popped balloons entering drainage systems, however, in a tweet, Beeksma said her team would be removing the deflated balloons.
How to nail guerrilla marketing for you business
Director at Good Things Marketing Helen Ahrens tells SmartCompany she thinks the campaign is “brilliant”, especially due to the ostensibly low cost of “a few balloons, some string, and some stencils”.
However, for businesses hoping to gain similar traction through their own campaigns, Ahrens warns these types of campaigns often need to be backed up with a strong social drive.
“The thing to note with this campaign is the team has created content online to match the real life experience with these balloons,” Ahrens says.
“When viewers see the marketing, companies need to be strategic and have somewhere where they can go online and find out what it’s all about.”
The hashtag tie-in via the stencils serves a dual purpose, believes Ahrens, because it provides an avenue for viewers to locate more info and can be used as a way to drive user generated content around the movie.
“It’s also a way for them to measure the engagement for future campaigns,” she says.
“Advertising with emotion involved has been proven to get viewers more motivated and interested, and this will invoke strong emotions in some people because it’s pretty creepy.”
Businesses of all size should try guerrilla marketing
Ahrens says guerrilla marketing can be employed for businesses of all shapes and sizes, using the example of a restaurant getting its staff members together and doing a cooking demo in the middle of a busy area.
“If you can do things people remember and take photos of, it can be very low cost but very effective, especially compared to $300,000 TV or billboard campaigns,” she says.
“You’ve got to be looking at your marketing strategy and your projected budgets, and make the choice between a pop-up style of marketing or something bigger.
“All campaigns have risks, but even if you calculate a 5% chance of there being risks, take the other 95% and go forth with strength and confidence.”