Mr. Sahil Chopra is the Founder & CEO of iCubesWire, a digital marketing solutions company, which helps brands, acquire and retain clients through web, mobile, email, video, rich media, and more. He is a young entrepreneur with a vision to create a digital marketing ecosystem with performance marketing operations, providing a robust platform to advertisers and publishers where they mutually grow and maintain long-term relationships.
We interact with myriad forms of marketing gimmicks that often manage to persuade us, consumers, into buying exactly what brands want us to. Their product offering is so lucrative and innovative that they tend to create unforeseen awareness for their product, and even before we know it, it piques our interest, and with due consideration, we end up playing into their hands.
This is the result of brands leveraging effective organic methods of creating brand awareness. However, we often fail to realize how a simple tactic like word-of-mouth marketing can make complicated paid advertising a run for their money.
These days, brands are all about creating a comprehensive and robust digital presence across platforms, and what better way to kick-start with a compelling stealth marketing strategy that establishes enough buzz for people to pin your brand in their consciousness.
Stealth marketing is a subset of Guerrilla Marketing, wherein consumers are introduced and re-introduced to a product in a way it was not initially intended for, thereby trapping the consumers by disabling their opportunity to opt-out of it. This gamble of artifice has enabled brands to use ethically dubious methods to entice their customers into buying their products. This form of marketing is highly advisable for small businesses on a small budget to generate an initial buzz.
Brands are no longer stuck up with key opinion leaders or brand connoisseurs that validate the relevance of their product; instead, they are looping in key opinion customers who engage with their product every day. They are the key to compel consumers to make favorable buying decisions.
Stealth marketing is running owing to the presence of bored customers. As a result, companies are subtly placing their brands in a way that is not only clever but also unaggressive and does not push their brand to their customers’ faces, only to end up being canceled.
Undercover marketing enables you to promote your brand without advertising. It is a cost-effective method that avoids incurring unnecessary expenses. Brands have also managed to juxtapose ideas and concepts to give consumers a feeling of owning the product without actually purchasing it and ultimately creating a subconscious need to own it.
Product Placement is another excellent example of stealth marketing, often used by brands to show influencers use their product in movies or music videos to promote it ingeniously. For instance, Starbucks appeared in a fantasy period drama like Game Of Thrones or Fed Ex used in Cast Away. When used wittily, brands can create an impact with the perfect placement.
Indian brands are successfully incorporating themselves in the silver screen, be it Make my Trip’s cameo in Yeh Jawani hai Deewani during their trip or Mountain Dew displayed in a scene in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara showcasing adventure sports and overcoming fear. Both the brands fall in line with the brand’s ideology and the context shown in the movie.
Some brands also use negative stealth marketing, like Wilmore Funeral Homes with its Don’t Get Vaccinated Campaign Banners and another brand using ketchup sachets as a means to raise awareness about landmines. Such campaigns create a special place in the market as they add credibility to the brand and the company’s consumer-related social responsibilities.
Stealth marketing help brands establish the target audience or a segment of the targeted demography most interested in their product. It gives brands the ability to sort out ideal customer profiles more suited to their product type. It also opens the door to the target audience that serves the highest potential for buying the product and is more likely to take the bait.
However, stealth marketing has its reservations with ideas that can backfire and quickly escalate things negatively. It may come at an easy price however, if not executed properly, it can make you pay a heavy fee for it. Certain stealth marketing tactics often prove to be unethical and forbidden by law, and brands should make a conscious effort to remain within this ethical barrier and not break the code of decency. Like Sony’s online video campaign promoting its PSP console, one of the enthusiastic fans from the video turned out to be a paid actor, thereby dubbing the customers, causing much damage to Sony’s reputation.
Why do brands turn to stealth marketing in the hopes of creating an impact? It’s because of the abundance of information available for every type of product in the market. When there is more information than we can process, we tend we pay less attention. The less attention we pay, the more of these brands want to deliver and before there is enough time for recovery, this spiral meets its ultimate end. However, stealth marketing of a double-edged sword it may seem to be, can help brands take a short circuit in this long-term process.
However, it cannot be denied that stealth marketing is leading the next wave of digital marketing because using marketing stunts and gimmicks to gain attention is much easier than creating compelling, authentic and relevant brand experiences in the long term. In the digital spectrum of the world, marketing is modifying, upscaling and degrading with each passing second; hence brands use every trick in their bag to keep their customer engaged.