At Turtl, we’re big fans of guerrilla tactics, so when we spotted this great example of buzz marketing near our London office last week, we had to give it the credit it deserves.

Honeypot [renamed ‘Thursday’ as of 2021] describes itself as the “world’s first micro-dating app”. You check in to a location and meet people there and then. It bridges the gap between online dating and meeting someone the old-fashioned way.

What is buzz marketing?

Buzz marketing is any marketing strategy that creates a “buzz”, or organic conversation, around a brand or product. How you create the buzz doesn’t really matter, but it should be something that gets people talking – commercials, advertisements, guerrilla tactics, logos, etc.

It’s a form of marketing with a goal to go viral online and generate word-of-mouth selling.

What did Honeypot do?

The whiteboard shown above was left on Liverpool Street in London during morning rush hour. Bearing in mind Liverpool Street sees daily foot traffic of 184,000, that is A LOT of eyeballs on their stunt.

The sign is a fake public shaming aimed at a boyfriend who has allegedly cheated on the writer. But, when you search the cheater’s name on social media, you’ll find the profile of Honeypot’s CEO and co-founder, George Rawlings. George came clean about the ruse on his Instagram:

We caught up with George about the stunt.

“We wanted to poke fun at ourselves because we know we’re smaller than our competitors. By pointing out our own vulnerability, we make ourselves look more human and personable than bigger brands,” he said. “This is a great tactic for startups to show people they don’t take themselves too seriously, which is something our demographic can really get behind.”

What was the reaction?

We’re always on the look out for the best marketing ideas. So it’s no surprise that this great piece of buzz marketing went down extremely well in our office when someone shared it on Slack. But the praise didn’t end there.

Check out these responses on LinkedIn:

George bagged himself an extra 1000 Instagram followers and his story was viewed 21,000 times. Not bad for a day’s work.

What’s George’s advice for companies looking to use buzz marketing?

“It can’t just be a random stunt. Whatever you do has to be authentic to your brand. Businesses miss out on adding personality to their brand by not connecting their message with the people behind it. By showcasing the people within the company, you build trust with your audience.”

Why is buzz marketing so great?

1. Word-of-mouth

83% of people trust peer recommendations more than advertising. If you’re able to get people on your side and generate some brand loyalty, it could actually drive more sales than standard advertising. Even if you’re using paid advertising as part of your buzz marketing strategy, the people who see your ad will spread it on social media if you do it right. This makes you seem less “salesy” and your marketing more authentic.

2. Cost-effective

We’re all looking effective cost-cutting marketing solutions. Well, because buzz marketing is super flexible, it can be as low cost or as bougie as you like. Thursday only needed a whiteboard, some pens and social media coordination to pull off their great stunt. As long as the creativity and brand messaging are on point, the budget doesn’t really matter.

3. Brand shaping

Buzz marketing isn’t for brands that like to play it safe. That’s exactly why it’s perfect for smaller companies. When your competitors are much bigger than you, a bold, risque brand voice can help cut through the noise and get you on the radar. And that’s exactly what Thursday did.

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t feel as able to dive in at the deep end with buzz marketing. You can always find lower risk methods of refining your messaging – such as giving your copy a psychological edge.

Three more examples of great buzz marketing

1. Game of Thrones | Bud Light crossover

This is a great example of a brand leveraging pop culture for its own gain. This commercial aired during Super Bowl 53 and a couple of months before the season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones. It starts out as seemingly just another addition to Bud Light’s then-campaign of commercials about Bud Knight. But, as the commercial progresses, characters and creatures from the TV series Game of Thrones begin to appear. Bud Light piggybacked off the most talked-about show of all time to create more buzz about their product.

Game of Thrones and Bud Light showed that collaboration can really enhance marketing strategies. Even if you’re not creating epic crossovers in your next buzz marketing campaign, make sure your content is capable of some effective integrations to maximise you marketing collateral’s impact.

2. UNICEF’s dirty water vending machine

It isn’t just for-profit businesses that use buzz marketing. It can be effective (and even more powerful) in the not-for-profit charity sector too. UNICEF set up makeshift vending machines that sold bottles of dirty water in New York, each labeled with a disease you can contract from unsafe water. This was to remind people that the money they spend on single-use bottles of water could be used to help provide safe drinking water to other parts of the world. It was so impactful it became a major news story.

3. Mini Cooper boxes in Amsterdam

Mini Cooper took to the streets of Amsterdam to promote its 99€/month finance deal during Christmas time. They placed mock Mini Cooper packaging (complete with Christmas wrapping paper) around the city for people to stumble upon. This created a lot of buzz from the people who saw it and shared pictures on social. The reaction videos also gave Mini Cooper content for their social media.

Putting pricing upfront is a powerful way of keeping the attention of audience members who might otherwise be easily turned off by lack of information. Integrate tools like a cost-savings calculator into your buzz marketing campaign to pre-empt any this hurdle.

Kudos to Thursday

It’s not easy making your voice heard in a big market, but Honeypot’s creative guerrilla tactics were a masterclass in buzz marketing. Not only did they brighten up our office with some much-needed morning laughter, but I’m sure there are a lot more people in London talking about the city’s latest dating app.

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