Eco-friendly guerrilla marketing: making a positive impact
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Eco-friendly guerrilla marketing: making a positive impact

Eco-friendly guerrilla marketing: making a positive impact

Kylie Bolton

In the 21st century, companies that have adopted an eco-friendly attitude and green strategies have proven to be more fruitful and sustainable. Guerrilla marketing is rightly viewed as a spectacular advertising tactic with low costs and viral potential, but it’s much more than that. It’s got an emotional pull and a future-oriented approach – and it’s once again showing itself to be a step ahead by going green.

Eco-friendly guerrilla marketing, or green marketing, is a responsible advertising method that takes the initiative to bring about a better world. 

Whether in the context of Hollywood, marketing, or even art, shedding light on the grim realities of our environmental situation has often been dodged, while many have been slow to adopt eco-friendly habits. Stiff competition and profit hunger have encouraged companies to overlook the impact that selfish actions have on future generations and the planet.

Fortunately, our metropolitan environment is a canvas and eco-friendly guerrilla marketing is the brush. By using green marketing, you can get noticed by sharing sincere campaigns, differentiating yourself from competitors with only narrow public relations schemes. Eco-friendly guerrilla marketing isn’t yet all carbon-neutral, but it’s unequivocally clear that water, plants, sand, biodegradable paint, and mud pose less of a threat to the planet. These mediums do not contain chemicals or aggressive solvents, and will not need to live out their days at the landfill site. 

We are now faced with the challenge of becoming sustainable before the government clamps down on industries' contributions to greenhouse gases. When hearing this, you might assume that acting sustainably may clash with your targeted profits, but this is a myth. The question is: how can you promote your brand with corporate social responsibility in mind?

Read more about the different types of street and guerrilla marketing.

Work by Alex Ossario in Brazil

Green Works ingeniously achieved this by using reverse graffiti to revolutionize their advertising and draw attention to the effects of air pollution in cities. Their campaign promoting the quality of their new cleaning products featured a 140-foot-long, eco-friendly mural on the wall inside the Broadway tunnel in San Francisco. This “reverse” ambient marketing tactic of cleaning built-up dirt from surfaces using a powerful water sprayer was accompanied by video footage that generated over 1 million views. The video is still being shared 12 years later, showing the attention that reverse graffiti attracts. Reverse graffiti serves the ethical and environmental factors of business and ensures operations are in the interest of all stakeholders.   

The art of activism behind reverse graffiti

You may also be interested in ideas on how brands use guerrilla marketing to appeal to other brands.

Outdoor advertising has a large ecological footprint

In previous decades, it may have been easier to ignore the need for ethical and responsible behaviour. However, consumers nowadays are increasingly disillusioned by wasteful consumption, and critical of the lack of environmental protection involved in business and marketing. Consumers are abandoning plastic bags, straws, and single-use containers in favor of reusable, hazard-free products. 

Meanwhile, every two weeks in Europe alone, six million square meters of paper is wasted after outdoor advertising. This means that outdoor advertising ads, if they were taped together, could wrap around the planet roughly four times! This is excluding vinyl billboards that utilize harsh inks, as the ink used for these quick, temporary ads is non-recyclable and therefore finds its way to landfills. It’s evident that outdoor advertising has a large ecological footprint.

Eco Guerrilla Painting by Saype in South Africa. Source: Saype.

Eco-friendly guerrilla marketing addresses the shortcomings of traditional marketing like complacency and the overuse of resources. Let’s look at Saype’s Beyond Walls project in 2019, which used 1000 litres of biodegradable products such as water, chalk, charcoal, and milk proteins to paint the largest human chain. Three frescoes were produced in the culturally and ethnically diverse city of Cape Town. The project symbolizes togetherness and reunification during hardships. It’s significant not only for its important purpose and beautiful art; it also illustrates one of the key facts about these sustainable projects – that it’s not only small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) that see the value in eco-friendly guerrilla marketing. Local governments are also going green, spreading optimism and encouraging more organizations to transition.

While still a fairly new advertising tactic, eco-friendly guerrilla marketing unconventionally promotes a brand's image and proactively decreases its environmental impact. By being eco-friendly, companies can be advocates for sustainability, and smaller businesses will benefit from attracting attention without overpriced traditional media. The secret behind the method’s success is that its goals and actions are ethical, responsible, and focused on customer needs. Research shows that 87% of consumers are inclined to purchase a product if the brand shows support for an issue they care about. This means that taking a proactive stance can be a major selling point for consumers.

One of the latest ecological techniques is guerrilla gardening. It was used by Adidas to drop their new line of shoes, and the athletic-wear company has now built on its success with their latest green announcement: that they’re producing plant-based leather footwear. By avoiding any aerosols that are harmful to the environment, eco-friendly guerrilla marketing has become a harm-free form of experiential advertising popular with brands like Starbucks. 

Given the longevity of this form of advertising – its primary maintenance involves only trimming and watering – plants and moss have the potential to grow into expressive graffiti. With sneakers made from recycled waste and vegan materials flying off the shelves, Adidas is one brand that’s diversifying and daring the rest of the world to join the movement. This tactic can do more than circulate information about your brand and product; it’s a cost-effective advertising alternative that has a high impact on sales – without having a negative impact on the environment. 

To avoid fulfilling the scientific journal Environmental Sustainability’s prediction that, if we continue our current habits, the business sector will discard 27 billion tons of solid waste by 2050, we should seize the benefits of eco-friendly guerrilla marketing. When you analyse the strategies adopted above closely, it’s evident that incorporating them is neither difficult nor expensive, and it’s undoubtedly beneficial for all. 

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