Truckside Advertising VS Guerilla Marketing

Honestly, truckside advertising is a great OOH with many positive points. It helps grow businesses, it helps raise awareness, and it helps increase brand visibility. It’s convenient, affordable and it’s not rocket science. Yes, it can be creative as well, when you put your mind to it, or when you hire the right creative team behind it. But guerrilla marketing is a real standout, at least from a creative point of view. Before going any further, let me fill you in on what I’m talking about here.

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy in which a company uses surprise and/or unconventional interactions in order to promote a product or service. The term was created in 1984 by writer Jay Conrad Levinson, and it was inspired by guerrilla warfare. Guerilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare that relates to strategies used by armed civilians such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, and elements of surprise. Guerrilla marketing uses similar tactics in the marketing industry. It can be labelled as a publicity stunt. 

You can say that guerrilla and ambient are from the same family. Guerrilla can be found both outdoor or indoor, but it seems to have more impact outdoor. Also, guerrilla marketing is more aggressive than ambient. But since it’s a form of OOH as effective as truckside advertising, let’s compare the two.

This guerrilla by McDonald's has pedestrians crossing on fries

Truck VS Guerrilla

These two OOH advertising techniques are effective in their own way when it comes to attracting the audience’s attention. However, there are a few points in which they differ significantly. An obvious one would be the fact that truckside advertising is an exclusively mobile billboard while guerrilla can be static or mobile too. Actually, guerrilla marketing can be a lot of things. Let’s get into it. 


The creative possibilities are unlimited when it comes to guerrilla marketing. With truckside advertising, well, it’s like print, so your creative idea has to fit into that medium. I know there are digital mobile billboards, but it’s still limited in terms of creativity. To emphasize my point, I’ll show you some examples.

You’re stuck in traffic, and you are getting annoyed by the minute. You need to get home by 5 p.m. because you don’t want to miss your favorite show. Or you can’t wait to eat the rest of yesterday’s dinner because it was so good. Or, you just want to take a nap. My point is, you’re stuck in traffic, and the last thing on your mind is looking for an advertisement to admire. Then you see this Pantene ponytail truck ad. You’ll definitely forget about the traffic for at least a few seconds. I mean, who comes up with these ideas?


A ponytail truck ad concept will have people remembering it forever


How about when you’re stuck in traffic after a long day at work, and you see a panther suspended on a road light? You automatically forget about the coffee you spilled on your white shirt at 7 a.m. or your boss stealing your ideas and taking credit for all your work, or your computer shutting down right before this critical presentation you’ve been working on for weeks. I know office work isn’t all negatives like this, but I’m trying to make you see the whole picture here. This is what advertising is about: snatching your attention well enough for you to forget everything else instantly.


A fantastic guerrilla marketing example shows a panther hanging off a pole


See the difference between these two ads? They are both attention grabbers, but one is bolder and more unexpected. That’s what I meant when I said that guerrilla marketing offers an unlimited number of possibilities when it comes to creative advertising.

Types of Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing comes in many forms, and the most common ones are defined as follow.

  • Street marketing: refers to any marketing or advertising actions taking place outdoors and using street elements.
  • Ambient marketing: is the use of marketing practices that help promote products interfering everyday routines and planning ads in unexpected places.
  • Event Ambush marketing: use of an audience to promote your product when they weren’t there for you in the first place.
  • Guerrilla projections: generating buzz by playing hidden projections and cameras onto high rise buildings.
  • Experiential marketing: mostly pop-up experiences that require the audience to interact with the brand and try it live.
  • Viral marketing: is named after the impact that marketer wishes to make with any marketing stunt they pull. This one is tricky, though because the marketer can’t make anything go viral. That’s the publics job, and if they don’t think it’s buzz-worthy, the ad won’t go viral.

Types of Truckside Advertising:

Truckside advertising includes transit advertising, trailer ad, mobile billboards, car wraps, and delivery trucks. Before you get confused, let me break this down a little. When I say transit, I mean ads that we see on buses and subways. Those can be very impressive as well and make millions of impressions each month. As for car wraps, they are more and more common because it doesn’t involve too many steps. You just use your company and wrap it with your logo or advertisement about your products. It can take place on a company car as well. 


When talking location, truck advertising is more at an advantage even though they are both very targeted. With guerrilla, you have to really know your target and where you are most likely to walk into them. For truckside advertising, however, there is no need for that since the truck will be driving around the city anyway. In other words, your target doesn’t come to you; you go to them. They will see your ad whether they want to or not. The target will only see the guerrilla advertisement if they pass by that location during the period in which the ad is running.


Both truckside advertising and guerrilla advertising are accessible to any budget size. Advertising on trucks can cost you as little as $800 and guerrilla can cost you even less. How, you ask? You don’t always have to do something grand for your ad to be qualified as a guerrilla advertisement. It just has to be unusual or unexpected enough. You can use a sticker or a simple poster, and when they are put into the right place you have your successful guerrilla.

RaisingTheRoof did a guerrilla campaign by placing posters at strategic places that fit perfectly with the message they were trying to convey. It was simple yet powerful. The posters put in streets corners where homeless people would sit read, “If this poster were a homeless youth, most people wouldn’t even bother looking down.” Another one placed at the same type of location read ,”Down here. A bad place for a poster. An even worse place for homeless youth.”. Such powerful words in such unusual places will definitely gain attention. And you don’t even need an impressive budget for the execution.


This guerrilla campaign pulls at the heartstrings of people passing by



As uncommon as guerrilla marketing can be, it drives results. Not surprisingly, when something disrupts people’s everyday routine it’s bound to get their attention. But, if that something is for the right cause, who can resist it? An example of a successful guerrilla campaign is the dirty water machine by UNICEF. Because, in too many countries in the world, clean water is a luxury. The non-profit organization thought of a way to raise awareness and get people to change that. They installed vending machines in the streets of New York and asked people to buy dirty water. But no one would drink dirty water intentionally, right? So they added a catch, a positive one, of course. So the catch was that instead of $1 on a bottle of water, why not donate it to help UNICEF bring clean water into those communities who need it. And that’s how they raised funds and awareness about what’s going on in some parts of the world. 


This UNICEF guerrilla creates positive change in the world


Truckside advertising also proves to be very effective, especially when it comes to making impressions and raising awareness. The medium alone brings over 50 million impressions a year, how impressive is that? What’s more is that 96% of people passing notice truckside ads, while only 37% ignore TV ads and 83% ignore online ads. These results are excellent, considering that some advertisers still neglect truckside advertising. Also, a study found that 97% of audiences recall ads on trucks, while another one found that 98% said vehicle graphics create a positive image for the company. Talking about driving results, I would say this is very satisfactory.


They both come with disadvantages, unfortunately. But it’s nothing big, no worries. Well, it depends on your perspective. With truck advertising, you do get a lot of impressions on your ads, but sometimes from the wrong audience. Your target audience may not be able to see your ad altogether. That could happen if it’s being driven around at night, for example, and it’s not digitized so it can’t be seen in the dark. 

With guerrilla advertising, a few obstacles you can encounter are lawsuits, your audience being confused, or being negatively shocked. We agreed that guerrilla could be very creative, but there are so many ways of being creative. At some point, the advertiser may shock their audience while trying to convey a meaningful message. The advertiser can encounter a lawsuit in a case where they use hidden cameras to pull pranks on the audience, for example. Some people may not take it well.

Truckside Advertising or Guerrilla Advertising?

It definitely depends on your inspiration. Anything is possible in the advertising industry, so you have to choose what suits you and your business best. However, you have to take into consideration whether or not the medium you want to use is appropriate for your message, your product, and your brand identity. Don’t go trying to impress your target and end up having a backlash. Trust me, it’s not worth it.


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