Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Check out how this brand marketed swimwear in a country where most women are uncomfortable wearing them! [Thursdays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

March 16, 2023

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more. 

A Note from Miles Everson:

Welcome to “Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!” 

We’re excited to share with you our topic for this article. 

According to Jay Conrad Levinson, guerrilla marketing is unconventional, engaging, impactful, and easy to execute. Campaigns that use this strategy create a lasting impression that enables consumers to actively remember a brand. 

For today, we’ll talk about a brilliant guerrilla marketing campaign by a major sportswear brand.

Continue reading to know how this company marketed swimwear in a country where most women are uncomfortable wearing swimsuits in public. 

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing 

In 2021, sportswear and clothing brand Adidas launched a new line of inclusive swimwear for women. As part of the company’s marketing campaign for its new offerings, it commissioned YouGov, a public opinion and data company to conduct a poll on its behalf.

According to the poll conducted on women from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), only 12% of women from the country are comfortable wearing a swimsuit at a public beach or pool. The primary reasons for this are body shaming and lack of privacy.

What’s more?

59% of women aged 18 to 42 blame the media for creating an unrealistic body image of female swimmers. Due to these results, Adidas was faced with the challenge of selling a product that its target market found uncomfortable to wear in public.

To address the challenge, the sportswear brand’s advertising and marketing partners, Havas Middle East and Jack Morton, came up with a unique solution:

A liquid billboard

Photo from The Drum

The inspiration behind this guerrilla marketing campaign was Adidas’ commitment to “making the future of sport more inclusive.” 

According to Jack Morton, the swimmable billboard was created to help inspire women, regardless of background, body type, and religion “to take a leap of faith and dive in to become the stars of the campaign.” 

Moreover, the initiative was a way for ordinary women to see themselves celebrated the same way as female celebrities or models.

After coming up with the rationale behind the guerrilla marketing campaign, Havas Middle East selected the UAE as the place where the initiative would be held.  According to Dany Naaman, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the advertising agency, the UAE was “the perfect place for Adidas to launch its new collection and the campaign because of the varied population and inclusive nature of the country.

How did the campaign play out?

On June 24, 2021, Adidas unveiled the billboard that was 5 meters high and 3 meters deep. Set up in one of Dubai’s public beaches, the structure was made of reinforced acrylic walls and the amount of water it could hold was equivalent to almost 163 bath tubs.

Photo from Jack Morton

Those who braved the scorching summer heat to swim inside the billboard were live streamed in a big screen located at Dubai Mall, the biggest shopping center in the city. Additionally, the participants of the campaign received personalized photos captured during their swim.

Photo from Arab News

As you can see, there was no shortage of willing participants in Adidas’ campaign. So, what were the results?

The guerrilla marketing campaign garnered a total of USD 6 million in earned media. Moreover, social media posts about the initiative reached 350 million people across 60 countries in multiple continents.

[Earned media – A metric that indicates the popularity of a brand and its products, initiatives, or campaigns. This usually comes in the form of social media impressions, reviews, and media coverage.]

According to Havas Middle East’s public relations arm Red Havas, the billboard sparked a “global conversation about Adidas’ mission to create real, lasting change for women, delivered through product innovations.” 

Additionally, 70% of the sportswear brand’s modest swimwear stock were sold in less than 4 weeks after the campaign. Due to the swimmable billboard, 36% of women in Dubai felt comfortable swimming in public beaches or pools, versus the previously reported 12%.

Aside from these results, Adidas, Havas Middle East, and Jack Morton won the following accolades:

  • D&AD’s 2022 awards:
    • 1 Graphite Pencil under the Press & Outdoor category
    • 1 Graphite Pencil under the Innovation category
    • 1 Wood Pencil under the Events & Stunts category 
    • 1 Wood Pencil under the Press & Outdoor category
    • Shortlisted for awards in the Public Space category
    • Shortlisted for awards in the Installation category
  • Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2022:
    • The Grand Prix under the Outdoor Lions category
    • 1 Gold award under the Outdoor – Special Build category
    • 1 Silver award under the Outdoor – Live and Advertising Events category
    • 1 Silver award under the Outdoor – Ambient Outdoor category
    • 1 Silver award under the Media – Use of Stunts category
    • 1 Bronze award under the Outdoor – Corporate Purpose & Social Responsibility category
  • The One Show 2022 Awards:
    • 1 Silver Pencil under the Brand Installations category
    • 1 Silver Pencil under the Spatial Design/Experiential & Immersive category
    • 1 Silver Pencil under the Experiential & Installations/Brand Installations category
  • Cresta Awards 2022:
    • The Grand Prix for Installations or Displays category
    • 1 Gold award under the Brand Purpose category
    • 1 Gold award under the Ambient & Experiential category
    • 1 Bronze award under The “Wish we’d thought of that” Award category

These results and awards show Adidas’ liquid billboard was effective in capturing its target market’s attention and showing the sportswear brand’s commitment to inclusivity.

Breaking Down Barriers 

Since Adidas was selling a product its target market found uncomfortable to wear, it had to come up with a creative and memorable way to promote its offering. So, the brand thought outside the box.

By taking its target market’s concerns to heart, Adidas and its partners were able to create a meaningful and memorable guerrilla marketing campaign. 

Additionally, the swimmable billboard allowed Adidas to encourage its audience—mainly women—to become comfortable wearing swimsuits in public pools or beaches, regardless of their background, ethnicity, and body type.

As you can see, guerrilla marketing provides brands with opportunities to create campaigns that help erase or ease a target market’s objections about an offering.

So, the next time you promote a product, consider a guerrilla marketing campaign that is based around your target audience’s key concerns!

Stay tuned for next week’s “Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!” 

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.) 

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Thursdays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”

Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”

Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.

Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers, and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.

Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.

This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.

It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).

Guerrilla Marketing can be inexpensive.

The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.

This is every business’ or brand’s dream!

Every Thursday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.

Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.

Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.

Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Thursday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!


Kyle Yu 
Head of Marketing 
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities 
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