It was reported this week that Red Bull has halted some of its ‘clandestine’ marketing after a document was discovered outlining a campaign created to undermine rival energy drink Monster, following Red Bull’s loss of a contract to supply pub chain JD Wetherspoon.
The document, seen by Marketing magazine, outlined activity involving smuggling in and consuming Red Bull cans at JDW sites now stocking Monster. If the Red Bull ‘wings girls’ were caught by staff, they were instructed to simply say they don’t like the taste of Monster so brought in their own supply of Red Bull.
This was revealed in the same week that a meteorite stunt backfired on a Swedish telco, losing the business a lucrative government contract as a consequence.
So how far is too far when it comes to guerilla style marketing activities? In a climate where brands have to try more and more outlandish activities to compete against each other, the lines between brilliant and ridiculous or illegal can blur.
Having the police called in to investigate marketing activity isn’t always as bad as it sounds, but I guess it depends on the size of the business carrying out the stunt. This is something that smaller operations can get away with and benefit from the publicity but far more damaging for larger businesses. But if you really can’t behave then I suppose the best option is to just not be caught!
Here are a few marketers that were caught or caught out –