Saturday, August 19, 2006

Great Guerrilla Marketing Campaign

Canon is preparing an impressive guerrilla marketing campaign around the 2006 U.S. Open. What is guerrilla marketing?

"Guerrilla marketing, otherwise known as buzz marketing, is an approach to advertising that relies on innovative methods of getting a message across to the market. Often highly targeted, guerrilla marketing works its way through large networks of people via word of mouth and electronic communications. It relies heavily on sparking the imagination of the market through intelligent and stimulating messages. It is also a much less expensive approach compared to traditional television advertising campaigns." --

It is important to note that guerrilla marketing can be hit or miss. When the
marketing campaign works, a company can receive an amazing amount of coverage, but when something goes wrong -- watch out. I remember a couple of years ago when either Microsoft or IBM released some new software. They produced a guerrilla marketing campaign where the company had artists draw the company's logo in chalk on city sidewalks around the nation, including Boston. It was an interesting, out of the box idea. The one problem was the company didn't secure permits for the drawing so they defaced public property, received fines and a decent amount of negative coverage.

According to a Promo Magazine article, Canon faces a unique challenge "in its sponsorship of the U.S. Open this year: Its competitor, Olympus, swept up the camera category rights to the event. As a result, Canon was forced to be creative and develop a program to promote its cameras without being on the grounds of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Tennis Center."

If a company does not have the category rights at an event, it is really tough to break through the clutter from all the other sponsors. At the Boston Marathon every year, Nike, New Balance, Adidas and Reebok are always creating new and innovative guerrilla marketing campaigns for all the runners.

So what is Canon planning this year:

* "More than 20 doubles of the photogenic tennis ace will canvass Manhattan from Aug. 28 to Sept. 4 to promote Canon’s new line of PowerShot digital cameras that will launch the same week. The more than six-feet tall and blonde look-alikes will help passer-bys keep cool by handing out 80,000 branded fans. They will also distribute 100,000 branded subway maps with information on routes to the Open and Canon products. The 'Marias', as they’ve been dubbed, will pose for pictures with consumers and challenge tennis fans to see if they can beat Sharapova’s fastest serve at various Canon PowerShot Zones throughout the city."

* "To kick off its sponsorship, on the tournament’s opening day on Aug. 28, Canon will set up a tennis court on the flight deck of the Intrepid, an aircraft carrier museum, where it will feature the look-alikes, tennis stars John McEnroe and the Jensen brothers, and an interactive zone where consumers can test their serves and view Canon products. Local radio station Z100 will give away Canon PowerShot cameras
on site and on air through various contests."

* "To support the campaign, Canon ads featuring Sharapova break during the Open on CBS and USA Network. Canon will also sponsor the USA Today’s special section on Aug. 25. A four-page special insert will appear in the New Yorker, New York Magazine, Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times. Meanwhile two mobile billboards placed on an expressway near the tournament are designed to catch fans’ attention as they travel to and from the Tennis Center."

Canon is spending a significant amount of time and money around this campaign. It is understandable since tennis has always been the sport Canon has used to promote its products. I am extremely interested to see what the ROI is from this marketing campaign. If it is a success, the PR department needs to create a case study on the results, because I believe it could win awards for its innovative ideas.


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