Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

FOREVER hooked?! Check out how this brand made 500,000+ people stop in their tracks! [Fridays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

November 19, 2021

How would you feel if a GIANT picked you up from the street and put you in his or her bag?

Highly likely you’ll be quaking in your boots, thinking you’re in a modern version of the fairy tale, “Jack and the Beanstalk.” 

… but wait! 

That’s the opposite of what people in New York City felt in 2010. In fact, they were even ecstatic about being “abducted” by giants! 

You’re probably thinking, “What?! How come they felt happy about that?”  

Let’s find out why.

In 2010, American fashion retailer Forever 21 set up its new flagship location in Times Square, NYC. 

… and for a well-known brand like Forever 21, having a store in one of the busiest streets in the world calls for an out-of-the-box marketing strategy. 

Here’s a question for you: 

What do you first think of when you hear the name, “Times Square”

You’d probably think of hundreds of massive lights, signs, and ads―digital billboards and flash advertisements promoting anything from movie premieres and Broadway shows to an artist’s new single!

So… what did Forever 21 do to stand out and direct the eyes of 500,000 daily passersby to its billboard instead of other billboards?

The brand made consumers a part of its ads!

With the help of space150, a Minneapolis-based digital communications firm, Forever 21 set up a digital billboard in which larger-than-life, on-screen Forever 21 models interacted with people on the streets. 

These virtual models picked up people and either put them into a purse, tucked them under hats, virtually sent them off to another location somewhere across the globe, or gave them a kiss that turned them into frogs.

The “giant” models also snapped Polaroid photos of shoppers and instantly showed the pictures on-screen. Sometimes, the models would even draw a black hole that sucked up every last person standing on the street! 

Woah… that was indeed a unique and interactive billboard! 

The virtual shows on the Forever 21 billboard successfully captured a lot of passersby’s attention and put smiles on their faces.

Was Forever 21’s giant interactive billboard effective? 

To say that a lot of passersby were excited about the first ever interactive billboard in Times Square is an understatement. 

In fact, these gigantic ads literally stopped people in their tracks that the NYPD (New York City Police Department) asked Forever 21 to change the camera angle of the billboard because it makes people block traffic!

Here are other results of Forever 21’s guerilla marketing campaign: 

  • The billboard launch alone led to numerous blog posts, more than 60,000 PR impressions, over 10,000 indexed pages/stories, 3,000 tweets, and 91,000 Facebook interactions.
  • The campaign earned a Bronze Pencil Award at The One Show, one of the most prestigious award shows in advertising, design, and digital marketing. 
  • Throughout the duration of the campaign, the billboard had a daily audience of more than 360,000 people with a 10-minute average view time.

Based on these results, we can see that Forever 21’s interactive billboard was a hit… and one of the keys to this was in knowing what would stimulate the brand’s target market!

According to Billy Jurewicz, CEO of space150:

“There is no audience in history like the teen/youth consumer audience we know today: always online, savvy, constant-consumers and creators of real-time, social, and geo content. They want to be entertained, not marketed to, and demand a brand experience as opposed to a branded experience. They’re the toughest but most rewarding consumer category to reach, convince, and involve.”

Kudos to space150 and Forever 21 for creatively using technology to create something that promoted the retail brand’s vision of fun and on-trend fashion by engaging with AND entertaining its target market! 

*Clap clap clap* 

As a business owner or marketer, what can you take away from Forever 21’s guerrilla marketing campaign? 

Engagement and participation really are keys to a successful campaign! 

Think about the brand’s marketing strategy… 

Forever 21 made its audience part of its giant billboard show! This set the ad apart from hundreds of flashing billboards in Times Square. 

Clever and awesome, wasn’t it?  

Get inspired by Forever 21’s guerilla marketing campaign! 

Creatively use your brand’s resources and available technology to entertain and interact with your potential customers and clients while also letting them discover what your brand is about.

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Fridays: 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 Friday, 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 Friday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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