Guerrilla Tactics – Not just for war.

October 7, 2008

When most people hear the word guerrilla tactics it is usually associated with warfare.  The concept of guerrilla ( working with less to achieve the same results as if you had more resources) has become something more than violence between opposing groups.  It is now often being used as a tactic in public relations, marketing and even art.

Two Guerrilla Girls on the steps of the Met

Two Guerrilla Girls on the steps of the Met

The Women in the Masks

The Guerrilla Girls are a group of female artists who feel women and minorities are often discriminated against in art galleries, art museums and film.  They do have reason to feel this way.  Too often women and minorities are overlooked when it comes time for choosing art for galleries and museums. The discrimination even extends to films. There definitely isn’t affirmative action in the art world.

How they work.
The Guerrilla Girls recognized this and decided to put on gorrilla mask to protect their identities and get their message out in some interesting ways.  They designed images to be put on billboards, posters, stickers and T-shirts.  They also invite people to purchase their posters and stickers and put them up in visible places.  These are some great ideas for PR professionals.

Not every client is going to have big bucks to work with.  By taking a leaf out of the Guerrilla Girls’ book public relations professionals can generate news and get messages out.  The Guerrilla Girls didn’t need to put out fancy media kits and pitch story ideas to media gatekeepers.  By packaging their message in an interesting way they got the media attention they wanted without going broke.

Even if your client does have a lot of money to work with guerrilla tactics can still be effective.  Doing something interesting and thinking outside the box can get more media attention than more traditional methods.  Think back to the Aqua Teen Hunger Force advertisement in Boston that got the attention of every media outlet in the U.S.  That advertisement may have been a bit extreme but at least it got the job done in one fell swoop.

Examples of Guerrilla Girl billboards and posters.

Guerrilla Girl Billboard

Guerrilla Girl Billboard

Guerrilla Girl Poster

Guerrilla Girl Poster

Guerrilla Girl Merchandise

Guerrilla Girl Merchandise



  1. Great website, Michelle! Great meshing of the realms of PR and Art History! Even as a freshman you loved those good Guerrilla Girls! I think you would make a great museum curator with your passionate admiration of art and art history and having experience in PR would benefit the art world tremendously! Congrads on your blog, keep up the great posting…especially on important figures such as the Guerrilla Girls that are always attempting to shed light on gender, racial and political injustices!

    take care!

  2. Great blog! I really like this article. 😀

  3. Thanks for this info! Too Shy to Stop writer Christine Barrett just wrote a piece about Frida Kahlo’s visit to Salem College. You can read the full article here.

  4. This article was very interesting. I had heard of the Guerilla Girls before but never really knew who they were. I think that the way these girls put on the masks and get their message out is very creative and adventurous. I also never realized how little museums worked with multimedia. I wonder, is it do to the fact that they think the older audience might get confused by more technology on a web page or something? Even if this was the case I agree that these art museums should do more to get the audience involved in the many media options available.

  5. Most art museums do have multimedia on their Web sites but they benefit from traditional media and Guerrilla marketing. This way they reach out to all of their audiences and make sure the maximum amount of people see their message. Plus, if Guerrilla marketing is done right they will get attention from news outlets and get even more people interested in the musuem. It’s just another way of getting people to talk about you.

  6. I really am a big fan of the concept of guerrilla tactics from a PR point of view, but especially from an artist/”self advertiser” point of view. I love the fact that just about any creative person can create a buzz around him/herself by simply pasting something up in a high traffic area. The first person who comes to mind for me is Shepard Fairy. He was able to create a brand that stood out from everyone else by pasting up huge images of Andre The Giant at very low cost to himself. Although most of this was done illegally at fist he quickly became very famous by taking public spaces over, and eventually became one of America’s best known artists/designers.

    Shepard Fairy’s work reminds me of what the Guerrilla Girls are doing because they too are catching the public’s eye with a bold style that can not be ignored. Although the two have very different goals, they are basically trying to achieve the same thing: get the general public’s attention to notice their cause. I think that great things can happen when the worlds of PR, design and art all meet for a common cause.

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