In 2006, the Canadian Red Cross wanted people to learn basic first aid skills, but while most would agree that’s a great idea, it’s a fairly low priority in our busy lives. The Red Cross decided to use a shocking guerrilla marketing idea to send “Learn first aid” soaring to the top of everyone’s to-do list.
Their Toronto ad agency, Downtown Partners, designed life-size floor clings of fallen shoppers, which they placed at the bottom of escalators in area malls. From the top of the escalator, the images were frighteningly realistic. When riders arrived at the bottom of the escalator, they saw the message next to the image: “Know what to do.” This simple directive was followed by the Red Cross’s website address.
Why we love it
Brogan & Partners does a lot of nonprofit healthcare advertising, urging people to stop smoking, eat more healthfully, get cancer screenings, and so on. So, we know firsthand the difficulty of making people realize the importance of these small actions, which in the short-term seem more like hassles than dramatic changes.
This guerrilla campaign transforms the idea of learning first aid from a boring thing you did to earn scout badges to a life-or-death imperative. By making passersby believe they were faced with a real emergency, the Red Cross drove home the value of “knowing what to do.”
The attention-getting clings were noticed far beyond the mall. The campaign generated so much media buzz, it was picked up by Red Cross organizations in the U.S. and as far away as Iceland. And what marketer doesn’t love free publicity? When it comes to attracting attention to their cause, the Canadian Red Cross knows what to do.
This is post #4 in our blog series: 10 Examples of Wildly Creative Guerrilla Marketing.