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Camelgate: Has Guerilla Marketing Gone Too Far?

Guerilla marketing is definitely not a new thing, floating things down the Thames has become a bit of an industry private joke, and big brands have been using it for years. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big lover of creative campaigns (you guys know how often I write about them on this blog), but I’m also a sucker for purpose. PR is nothing without it, and the problem with the type of OOH stunts I’m seeing more and more is that they seriously lack relevancy.

Exploiting Animals For Marketing = Not Cool!

This blog is not a friend of the dating app, Thursday. I can appreciate their ability to strike a conversation (though it seems only in the marketing world – so hopefully there are enough single people in this industry for them to target!), but the company has never really sat right with me. I’d say they’re the marmite of the PR world at the moment, and well, I don’t love them…

I can think of a few reasons as to ‘why not’

The brand is under fire again this week for parading a camel around London’s busy street.

To promote what exactly? You tell me.

The staple cardboard sign naturally points to the brand, Thursday, but other than that your guess is as good as mine as to what a camel, and so-called hump day, has to do with a dating app.

I’m not a fossil, I understand that marketing doesn’t – and shouldn’t even – be focused on driving sales – it’s about awareness. But anyone can stick a sign on a camel if they really want to, the clever thing is making it relevant to your business.

Is This The Standard Of Guerilla Marketing Now?

So I ask, has guerilla marketing gone too far? As marketers, can we even get excited about these stunts anymore without being swayed by blindingly obvious faults? And in this case, cruelty.

I would say no, there’s a time and a place for everything, and I love creativity as much as the next PR. Just make sure it actually fits your brand, and while you’re at it – make sure no animals are harmed in the process! Instead of taking the ‘we’ll do anything to go viral’ approach – aim to raise awareness for the right reasons. That’s bound to do your brand more favours than gimmicks that only seemed to be loved by other marketers on LinkedIn and nobody else.

And before anyone comes for me, that quite literally seems to be the case. I’ve not heard a good word about this from anyone other than LinkedIn comments. The brand has disabled Instagram comments on its post, which is never a good look.

Your campaigns should be for your customers, not other marketers.

I’ve really enjoyed some of Thursday’s older PR stunts, and let’s be honest, we definitely know who they are now.

However, if you asked me to name one person I know with the app, I couldn’t. Unfortunately for them, they’re not the be-all-and-end-all of the dating world I think they wish they were, and they’re trumped by the likes of Hinge, Tinder and Bumble. Companies who’ve done their fair share of their own creative marketing, but partnered it with building a solid reputation too.

You want your brand to be known for the right reasons

I’m all for celebrating other businesses and the amazing work they’re doing, but for me, this just isn’t it. I know they can do better.

There are really interesting conversations going on about this right now on Twitter (see: Iona’s post and Erica’s post) and LinkedIn (see: Phoebe’s post, the comments on Thursday’s own LinkedIn post and Bartlomiej Nowak’s post). If you have anything to add, please do tweet me, I always love hearing your opinions.

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