What Is Stealth Marketing?

Stealth marketing has become many marketers favorite tool for generating buzz around a new product. This strategy is low cost, often undetectable and can be highly effective when used properly. But what exactly is stealth marketing? Below you can find out what stealth marketing is and how it used to generate attention for products.

What Is Stealth Marketing?

It is a marketing strategy used to gain attention for a new product, service, film or book without appearing to being advertising. These marketing techniques are also sometimes referred to as buzz marketing. It is a broad term which encompasses a wide range of specific marketing techniques. Some of the most common methods use by stealth marketers include product placement, fake media and the use of actors.

An Example Of Stealth marketing In Action

Probably the most famous example is Sony Ericsson’s marketing campaign for their new camera phone. In this Sony Ericsson hired 60 actors and 10 different cities. These actors posed as tourists and asked strangers whether they would mind taking a photo of them. The twist was that instead of handing them a traditional camera they asked them to use their camera phone. At this point in time camera phones were a new product which most people were unfamiliar with.

While they were taking the photo the actors were described how ‘cool’ they thought the new phone was. This same marketing technique was used more recently by Blackberry to promote the Blackberry Pearl. For this campaign Blackberry hired attractive female actresses to visit bars and flirt with men. When a man asks for the actresses phone number she handed over her Blackberry and asks them to enter his number. This was a way of getting people to try out the new Blackberry without them even realising they were being marketed to.

How Stealth Marketing Fits With Traditional Advertising

The purpose of these marketing techniques are to build up word of mouth buzz about a product or service. It is generally not designed to have an immediate direct impact on sales. For this reason it is usually complemented with traditional advertising such as radio, TV or newspaper.

The Benefits Of Stealth Marketing

It is often used for new products where consumers may be unfamiliar with their features and benefits. This is shown by the example of the Sony Ericsson camera phone where people had not yet tried a camera integrated into the phone. The benefits of a camera and a phone may not be immediately obvious to customers. By getting them to try it out for themselves and talk about it with their friends Sony Ericsson was able to generate buzz for the product.

It is also a relatively low-cost marketing technique compared to other strategies. One of the most common techniques is to create controversy around the product that they themselves are marketing. Blogs and other media outlets are then alerted to the controversy by the stealth marketer. This gains attention for the product without having to pay for advertising.

Finally these marketing strategies make it possible to get the attention of consumers that might otherwise be difficult to advertise to. Technology such as TV on Demand and the Internet is enabling consumers to control which advertising – if any – they are exposed to. Because techniques used by the stealth marketer are not immediately detectable as being advertising, this makes it an increasingly attractive marketing strategy as traditional advertising is often proving less effective.

These marketing strategies are not without its controversy. Some commentators believe that the practice is too deceptive and involves “tricking” consumers. However the techniques are also undeniably effective in many circumstances. Using stealth marketing requires creativity and the gift of understanding of how to build buzz. When used well stealth marketing can be a low-cost way to get a lot of attention for a product.

 product2market
James Mello
James is the Lead Author & Editor Product2Market of Blog. James writes for the Product2Market blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Marketing.
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