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Ketty Colom

Ketty Colom Digital Marketing Specialist

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Shark Week's Guerrilla Marketing

sharkweek resized 600

It happens every year during August, no I’m not talking about back to school shopping. I’m talking about Shark Week! First conceived in 1987, this has been cable’s longest-running promotion and spurred comedic parodies of the like. While other networks have tried to replicate the success of Shark Week, none have been able to build the same buzz.


It’s hard to pinpoint on why sharks capture people’s fascination, but it might be because sharks inspire the right mix of awe and fear. The shark can been seen as a cultural metaphor for our fears and anxiety about what lurks below the dark surface of the ocean. Since 2003, Shark Week has consistently attracted more than 20 million viewers. This begs the question, how does the Discovery Channel do it?


Guerrilla Marketing (an unconventional way of performing marketing activities).


1. Get Visual

To promote Shark Week last year, Discovery Channel dressed isn’t entire Maryland headquarters as a shark. It doesn’t stop there either. In the past they have left shark bitten surfboards across Australia's most popular beaches.


2. Go Social



This year Discovery kicked off its Shark Week with its Snuffy the Seal campaign. This spot features Snuffy being released into the water in front of onlookers, only to be eaten by a shark. Snuffy became a trending topic on Twitter minutes after the spot aired. Since then, the video has been watched online more than 5 million times!


3. Go Where Your Customers Are

Shark Week draws a younger audience for the Discovery Channel than its normal programming. So it’s no wonder why the partnered with Coldstone Creamery for a themed ice cream sundae and cake (by the way I had this sundae and it was delicious) and with Toms Shoes for a limited-edition Shark Week Inspired Shoe.  In addition, this will be the second year in a row that Volkswagen will return as the presenting sponsor of Shark Week.


4. Do Something Unexpected

The VW Beetle Shark Cage was made into a convertible for this year’s Shark Week. If you remember last year this Beetle had a roof, so VW is definitely upping the ante so to speak. In addition to this “car” VW will also create a better social and mobile experience through theSubaquatic Road Trip, which will give viewers a 360-degree underwater look at what is surrounding the shark cage.


So you’re probably thinking to yourself, well damn Ketty, I don’t have the budget to do all those things! I say, you don’t have need a Megalodon sized budget to do this sort of marketing.


A dealership that does guerrilla marketing tactics very well is Subaru of Wichita in part of their Social Media Manager Aaron Wirtz. From creating animated gifs to being really active on Instagram, this dealership is really creative with their marketing. They sponsor local charities which gives them visibility, they understand social media is a form of communication and where customers are, and they thought outside the box by creating animated gifs that are fun and easy to share.

The next time you’re watching Shark Week, just think to yourself, how can I take a bite out of my next marketing campaign?





If you have any other guerrilla marketing tips please feel free to share them in the comment section below! As always follow @activengage for marketing tips and live chat updates!

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