Ambient marketing, digital marketing, direct marketing, piggyback marketing, flibittyfloo marketing — there’s so many disciplines a good designer, marketer, and manager have to know. All are difficult, but each has it’s own purpose, and effectiveness to innovate creative advertisements.

Sometimes the most successful examples are controversial ads, and sometimes, they are complete ad fails (but still create a buzz, which makes them successful), but whatever you create, the importance of any marketing effort is customer engagement, with brand building recognition.

Three of the most misunderstood pieces of marketing, are ambient, guerrilla, and sabotage. They all sound scary, so maybe they’re alike? NO! Three different approaches… and here’s how to tell them apart…

Three Outdoor Marketing Methods

Ambient Marketing

Ambient Marketing is a term that has been described in different ways, but the “out-of-the-house” basis is the key. Ambient is the practice of placing ads in an environment which is frequented by consumers. The ad gains attention by often being interactive with consumers as well, but without the intimacy, and surprise of guerrilla marketing.

A great ambient ad… as long as consumers are on the upper levels of the building and look over the edge.


An interesting ambient ad from Frito-Lays… except for the fact that everyone will look up, but not to their right, to tie in the ad on the wall.


Ambient ads that use sunlight or a spotlight only work half of the time. I just have to wonder what shadow the sun casts on this ad during the daytime?

Newcastle Brown Ale

There’s no better ambient ad than one that gives you the feeling of imminent doom, in a confined space!


Brilliant… and very, very creepy!

Alice in Wonderland

On a cloudy day, you just waste the space.


Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy in which low-cost unconventional means (graffiti, sticker bombing, flash mobs) are utilized, often in a localized fashion or large network of individual cells, to convey or promote a product or an idea. The term guerrilla marketing is easily traced to guerrilla warfare which utilizes atypical tactics to achieve a goal in a competitive and unforgiving environment.

The concept of guerrilla marketing was invented as an unconventional system of promotions that relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big marketing budget. Typically, guerrilla marketing campaigns are unexpected and unconventional, potentially interactive, and consumers are targeted in unexpected places.

The objective of guerrilla marketing is to create a unique, engaging and thought-provoking concept to generate buzz, and consequently turn viral. The term was coined and defined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book, Guerrilla Marketing (1984). The term has since entered popular vocabulary and marketing textbooks.

Guerrilla marketing involves unusual approaches such as intercept encounters in public places, street giveaways of products, PR stunts, or any unconventional marketing intended to get maximum results from minimal resources. More innovative approaches to Guerrilla marketing now utilize mobile digital technologies to engage the consumer and create a memorable brand experience.

One of the key steps in a successful guerrilla marketing campaign, is to get photos and video of the material, or installation before people walk off with, or deface them. It’s a brand of marketing that really depends on virality on the web.

A surprising image meets you at the door. For most people, they would hesitate, wondering what to do. That’s time well spent considering the ad!


A fun stunt promoting Virgin Airlines by placing luggage all over London statues. How many suitcases did they get back?

Virgin Airlines

It may only work for an hour per day, but what an hour!

Take a Break

Mmmmm! Ice cream is so rich and decadent. Thanks for dropping us back into reality with a toothbrush ad!


It is, of course, a photo-sticker, but it proves that people do notice open manhole covers.


Needs to be bigger, in my opinion, as it’s on a moving vehicle.


Leave these on a beach, and it will definitely garner attention… and walk away with fans.

Shark Week

It catches your eye… and makes your nose hurt.

Nose Hair Trimmer

And how long will the discarded clothes and other belongings stick around? Makes you wonder about all those suits Clark Kent left in phone booths.

Bus Shelter

Fun “scary shadow” coasters are a great promotional item for guerrilla marketing.


An adrenaline pumping experience of coming down the escalator and seeing a woman lying face down on the floor. Naturally, someone will get a picture of themselves lying on top of her.

Red Cross

An old example of guerrilla marketing, but it always strikes me as funny that the steam arising from the manhole, as any New Yorker knows, smells like death and overcooked broccoli. Not too enticing when you get a whiff of their “coffee.”


Installations are a great use of ambient and guerrilla marketing. People interact with the ad, and, if you’re stuck in the rain, you’ll read the ad several times.




Sabotage Marketing

Sabotage Marketing is, as the name says, a way of sabotaging another brand, message, or drawing attention to your own brand by playing off the popularity of another brand.

Sabotage Ads


My favorite ambient ads are the following examples. They are quick to understand, clever, and truly innovative in terms of their message. They are also a mix of ambient, guerrilla, and sabotage marketing. After looking at examples of the three branches of this type of marketing, can you tell what elements about it make it a happy mix?

Jobs in Town

Jobs in Town 2

Jobs in Town 3

Jobs in Town 4

Jobs in Town 5

Jobs in Town 6

Jobs in Town 7


There are many ways to use marketing to reach consumers, and all of them should surprise, engage, and drive consumers to action. The importance of guerrilla, ambient, and sabotage marketing is that they bring marketing messages right to the consumer, shoving it in their faces, and making them take notice…. whether they want to, or not!

Which of the above ads do you think have the most impact, or have you seen other, better ways of marketing and advertising? Share with us in the comments below.

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