Idea of The Week: Did guerrilla marketing help Whitecaps win?

>The Situation:

Here at Marketing Dangerously, we love guerrilla marketing. Why? Because it’s fun, fast, creative – and often, well, dangerous.  Case in point: As everyone in Vancouver knows the Whitecaps FC (meaning Football Club, for you non-soccerolics), has just played its debut game in the MLS Major League Soccer organization. Wanting to make their opening game a winner in every way – including selling out Empire Stadium – the club turned, aggressively, to guerrilla marketing. Here’s how.

>The Idea:

The idea with guerrilla marketing is to be nimble, quick, daring and (most important) attention getting. The Whitecaps front office set the city abuzz in the 30 days leading up to the Big Game by pulling off one great GM stunt after another. Their most visible stunt involved dressing statues across the city in white scarves and the simple white “Bell” jersey that has become the Whitecaps symbol. Statues of “The laughing men” were adorned with the Bell shirts at English Bay. And in Stanley Park, sprinter Harry Jerome was also draped with the jersey – as was Gassy Jack in Gastown, and the Stanley Park scuba girl – and even a stone lion on the Lions Gate bridge.

>The Risk:

Whitecaps FC also filmed a series of videos that got huge play in the 30-day run-up to their game with arch rivals Toronto FC. Most risky (or risque) was the utterly life-like body painting of a female model in the Whitecap colors. Here is a link to the video where the bodywork is being done (and there is the finished photo, above). Hmm.

>The Reward:

The club also posted a short video clip of singer Bryan Adams, decked out in club colors – and in order to create a stunning “white-out” at the opening game, it gave out thousands of white scarves – urging ticket buyers to wave them continuously throughout the game – as a way of intimidating the opposing team. Bottom line. Everything worked. Empire Stadium was sold out (to the rafters). Vancouver won the game 4 to 2. And, it could be argued, guerrilla marketing won the day.

>The Call to Action:

When it comes to guerrilla marketing, doing a little can do a lot. An example: I’ll never forget driving through Trail, BC on a winter speaking tour (years ago) and being stopped in my snowy tracks by the sight of a couple frolicking on a snow bank at the side of the road – beneath a beach umbrella – tossing a beach ball – dressed in nothing but bathing suits. As I slid to a halt, it became clear that these two were mannequins, not man and woman. But what incredible impact! And who was behind this ? A travel agency – promoting getaways to more sunny climes. Perfect. (Got you thinking?)

See you Thursday.


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