The original guerrillas frustrated Napoleon’s army in Spain by mastering space. They studied their targets’ movements and struck suddenly, leaving them surprised and overwhelmed (and sometimes dead).

Today’s guerrilla marketers use similar tactics, to (hopefully) more constructive ends. Many of the most successful guerrilla campaigns target people in public and transient spaces – shopping malls, train stations, bus shelters. Capturing the consumer’s attention at a moment when they aren’t looking to “give their attention away” is fundamental to the campaign’s success.

But instead of just adding noise to the daily commute, great guerrilla marketers can offer them something more, whether it’s a product, a service or a much-needed smile. Guerrilla marketing should blur the lines between advertising and entertainment, causing the consumer in transit to let down his or her guard and embrace the experience.

Here are some excellent examples of campaigns that have won the hearts of Transumers, commuters, and anyone lucky enough to be passing by:

On the Fly

Orbitz, Travelzoo, American Airlines and Continental have all used interactive display ads in airports around the world.

Interactive display ads are a crossbreed between a billboard and a touch-screen game. Monstermedia leads the way technologically. They have deals with the likes of JC Decaux, Alliance Airport Advertising and Clear Channel, giving them instant access to the most transient commuters.

For the Transumer, it’s a welcome break from the monotony of “flat” ads. For the advertiser, it’s a chance for people to engage playfully with your brand.

One autumn-themed American Airlines billboard featured a trail of dancing leaves that followed you as you passed. Orbitz sponsored an interactive billboard that featured people sitting on a bench; when you stood in front of them, they would stand up and interact with you.

Not all guerrilla campaigns are so high-tech. In order to demonstrate the comfort of its new seats, KLM hired an illusionist who sat on a very comfortable-looking invisible chair in Amsterdam and Manchester airports.

After the “United Breaks Guitars” affair you have the right to be concerned about how your luggage is handled. Virgin wants you to relax. In this stunt, they sent egg cartons onto baggage conveyor belts; if the eggs arrived safely, musical instruments would be a piece of cake, right?

Egg Crates Arrive Safely

The Right Track

To promote the opening of a new retail outlet, Ikea decked out a Japanese monorail car with its distinct sofas and blinds. Passengers were surprised and delighted to enjoy a comfortable, clean and cool commute. The Swedish brand implemented a similar project in a subway station in Paris.

The T-Mobile dance mob in London’s Liverpool Street station – one of the first (if not the first) commercial flash mobs – was a powerful display of guerrilla marketing. A group of dancers (looks to be 150-200 people) performed to a medley of popular hits, making many a commuter’s day.

The video has been watched tens of millions of times on YouTube and other sites, gaining an incredible amount of exposure and kudos for the wireless carrier.

In this fun ad, it appears the poster is crushing someone’s head. It looks painful. Bayer used it to promote its Aspirin as a way to relieve the crushing pain of the morning commute.


Relieve your Headache

Taking the Bus

Cadbury sponsors a yearly quest for the most creative ways to “Goo the Egg,” or smash the caramel “yolk” out of the chocolate snack. Last year they rolled out touch screens on 20 bus shelters across England, which allowed those waiting for a bus to goo virtually while they waited.

Fitness First, a Dutch chain of fitness centres, turned the bench of a Rotterdam bus shelter into a scale. No more hiding: If you want to sit down, you had better be happy with your weight.

In Berlin, watchmakers IWC got everyone on a bus to try their new watch by designing special bus handles. When riders put their hands through the loop, it looked like they were wearing the product.

Watches on a Bus

Watches on a Bus

Tell us: Is guerrilla marketing an effective way of serving the Transumer? What are your favourite travel-related guerrilla campaigns?