Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Find out how a tiny breath mint packed a powerful breath-freshening punch in this 2012 campaign! [Thursdays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

August 25, 2022

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:

Hello, everyone! Welcome to today’s edition of “Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing.”

According to Jay Conrad Levinson, guerrilla marketing is unconventional, engaging, easy to execute, and sometimes, inexpensive. These campaigns make a huge impact and easily stick to consumers’ minds.

Excited to know what today’s feature is?

In this article, we’ll talk about a brilliantly pulled guerrilla marketing tactic in France.

Continue reading to know how this brand of small, hard mint candy made a HUGE impact in the marketing world and left a lasting impression in the minds of the public in 2012.

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

Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing

“I can smell your lunch.”

There’s just no easy way to tell someone that his or her breath stinks.

Well, close personal friends and family members can get away with that frankness, but for acquaintances and colleagues, that’s a complicated social equation.

Try bluntly telling that to someone you’re not close to and that person would declare F.O. (friendship over)!

One brand understands this dilemma. So, in 2012, it made an effective way to help people in Paris, France address that concern.


Through a clever guerrilla marketing stunt…

Tic Tac is a brand of small, hard mint candy manufactured by Ferrero. The brand was first created in 1969 and is now available in different flavors in over 100 countries.

Photo from Packaging Strategies

Tic Tacs are usually sold in small transparent plastic boxes with a flip-action integral hinge lid. Originally, the candies were dyed specific colors for different flavors, although in many countries where they’re sold today, the plastic boxes are colored and the actual Tic Tacs are white.

A Breath of FRESH Marketing

“Dancing in unison is soooooo over!”

“The world is sick of flash mobs!”

“Flash mobs are soooooo 2010!”

According to CogsAgency.com, flash mobs are one of the “worst tried trends” in the marketing world. At first, it effectively managed to get the public’s attention, but as more brands tried the strategy, people from all over the world got used to it, therefore losing its impact.

However, in 2012—a time when consumers and marketers alike are losing faith in flash mobs—marketing agency Ogilvy & Mather Paris breathed new life into the old gimmick for its client, Tic Tac.

The result?

A flash mob that was at another level of brilliance, attention-worthiness, and fun!

The title of the marketing stunt was, “Worst Breath in the World.” Here, Tic Tac and Ogilvy & Mather Paris put a new spin to this let’s-get-the-whole-city-involved guerrilla marketing tactic.

The campaign also made people realize just how “deadly” it is to have bad breath and why they must always carry a Tic Tac mint candy.

Here’s how the marketing stunt played out:

In a series of flash mobs conducted on different days in March 2012, the leader of the mob approached unsuspecting passersby in Place de la Concorde in Paris to ask for directions. Halfway through the passersby’s response, the leader suddenly fainted!

Soon after, everyone else in the vicinity also collapsed, like a set of dominoes. What’s more?

A video popped out of a large monitor in the city square, showing policemen, gardeners, waiters, and other people in different places in Paris losing consciousness too!

Okay… what’s happening?

The “victimized” passersby were the only ones left standing in the middle of Place de la Concorde. By this time, they knew something was up… and their reactions?

One of them looked like he forgot how to move, another one looked like she was half crying and half laughing, another one tried to wake the leader of the mob up, and the last one ran away from the scene out of shock and fear!

A few minutes later, while the victims were still processing what just happened, a member of the mob that was lying near them handed them a Tic Tac. After they ate a piece of the fresh mints, the whole mob stood up and clapped their hands.

Confettis and party poppers also popped out beside the large monitor in the city square as though the entire city was celebrating.

That’s when it all made sense to the passersby—the flash mob was conducted to promote Tic Tac and deliver the message that the brand helps customers have fresh breath throughout the day.

Well done, Tic Tac and Ogilvy & Mather! That was such a clever marketing stunt!

Watch the video here to see how the campaign went out.

Was Tic Tac’s “Worst Breath in the World” campaign effective?

For such a tiny mint candy, Tic Tac’s guerrilla marketing stunt packed a powerful breath-freshening punch.

The strategy not only impacted the lives of the passersby who directly interacted with the campaign but also resonated in the minds of those who saw the video of the flash mob online.

Below are the results of the campaign:

  • A month after it was uploaded, the “Worst Breath in the World” campaign video garnered a total of 800,000+ views and 5,000+ shares on YouTube.
  • The campaign won The 2013 One Show’s Gold Pencil awards under the Interactive and Advertising categories.
  • After a month, Tic Tac recorded a total of 500,000+ social media impressions from the video of the flash mob.
  • The campaign was featured in various websites and magazines such as The Huffington PostFast CompanyFreshness MagCreative Guerrilla Marketing, and more.

These figures and awards show that Tic Tac’s “Worst Breath in the World” campaign became a hit not only in France but also in other parts of the world.

Way to go, Tic Tac and Ogilvy & Mather Paris!

If there’s something you can learn from Tic Tac’s guerrilla marketing stunt, it’s that if you don’t have a unique product benefit, you have to come up with a unique approach.

Think about the mint candy brand’s case: Almost all mints promote their ability to eliminate bad breath… and Tic Tac is aware of this.

However, the brand knew dropping that selling proposition wouldn’t be a good marketing spin, but sticking to it would make Tic Tac look like a “me too” product. So, the brand came up with a unique way to emphasize the product’s benefit—through flash mobs.

Here’s the thing: Flash mobs aren’t new either. As mentioned earlier in this piece, the marketing strategy is losing its impact because lots of other brands are using the dancing-in-unison tactic.

What made Tic Tac’s flash mob different from the rest was its ability to nicely illustrate—and exaggerate—the humiliation that could come from having bad breath. There was also an element of surprise because no one would have expected a number of people to faint all at the same time in a public place.

By moving away from the conventional flash mob and trying a new idea, which involved the public passing out in unison, the campaign team managed to knock the unsuspecting passersby off their feet and capture people’s attention worldwide.

Oh, and by the way! In case you’re wondering where Tic Tac and Ogilvy & Mather got all those actors for the flash mob, wonder no more.

We’ll let you in on a secret: Those actors were all employees of the Ferrero Factory. The campaign team asked them if they could help the brand out in conducting its guerrilla marketing stunt.

In exchange, these employees got additional pay!

Talk about getting your staff involved in your brand’s plans, operations, and marketing efforts to increase chances of success.

We hope you find today’s topic interesting and insightful!

With an awesome idea and a well-detailed plan/strategy, you can also make a BIG wave in your industry no matter how small your brand’s offerings are.

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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