Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

This controversial movie created one of the earliest viral campaigns! How can you do the same with a limited budget? [Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

March 6, 2020

“In October of 1994, three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary.

A year later their footage was found.”

This is the opening sequence of The Blair Witch Project.

The Blair Witch Project (1999) is a documentary film about the legend of a famous witch. It was shot by amateur filmmakers Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard who all suddenly went missing.

The story of the Blair Witch piqued the curiosity of audiences around the world, prompting more people to watch the documentary and see how the events unfolded.

It became one of the most successful cinematic releases of the year.

Everyone wanted to know more about the whereabouts of the three people that have gone missing. Everyone wanted to know more about the infamous Blair Witch.

But… here’s the big plot twist:

The Blair Witch Project is NOT an actual documentary!

In fact, it’s a movie made to look like a documentary to make the events seem real and authentic.

Audiences who watched the film were shocked when they found out!

Building Lore…

In the early days of the internet, where information was not as accessible as it is now, the film’s creators were able to craft a website that provided detailed information about the Blair Witch.

This helped build and sell the entire story to people, becoming an early form of viral guerrilla marketing. People flocked to the website on a regular basis, wanting to learn more about the iconic witch, along with the whereabouts of the missing filmmakers.

Along with adding more information about the Blair Witch, the website also posted missing person posters of the three actors from the film.

The website greatly added more buzz and hype.

Various media outlets and online forums were heavily talking about the film and the story behind it.

A Box Office Hit!

In the end, this guerrilla marketing campaign was what helped The Blair Witch Project become a cultural phenomenon.

It soon became one of the most iconic horror films in history and one of the most financially successful films of 1999.

While the film only had a USD 60,000 budget, The Blair Witch Project grossed over USD 248 million, which made it into one of the highest-earning independent films of all time.

The film also made the “found footage” trend popular, influencing other popular films in the following decades like Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield.

Setting a (Marketing) Trend

The Blair Witch Project didn’t just become a great influence on “found footage” and horror films, it also showed the potential of viral internet marketing in the 90s.

Back then, viewers would only hear about an upcoming film from trailers shown on TV and in cinemas, along with several posters and magazine ads.

The Blair Witch Project is one of the first films to be effectively marketed in the digital space, allowing it to reach more people in different parts of the world.

The digital space has greatly transformed into the juggernaut of information that it is today, but viral guerrilla marketing is still a viable way to market your film or brand!

You can create viral marketing campaigns through social media and streaming platforms, or even start a conversation in an online forum.

The internet offers numerous opportunities to promote your brand, and with the right strategy, you might just go viral!

Guerrilla marketing is all about sparking emotional interest in your brand and what you offer, and using the internet is the most accessible platform available.

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 is 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 guerilla 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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This content is used with permission from The I Institute and The Business Builder Daily.

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