Wild posting is a marketing practice related to outdoor advertising. We see them every day in major urban centers. It is found on electric poles, traffic lights, or stairwells. It’s a way of transmitting your commercial (or political) message outside of social networks. It has a good number of advantages and disadvantages that we present to you in a summary table. This article explains the ins and outs of this bold communication strategy, before giving 3 notable examples of a wild poster.
What is wild posting?
Wild posting is generally political posting or advertising related to guerrilla marketing operations. It is said to find its roots in traditional advertising like billboards, city lights and other outdoor activities (Sharma, R. 2014).
However, this practice is most often illegal under the law. This format of “Out-of-Home advertising ” can however be interesting given the potential it embodies. Indeed, this segment is part of traditional outdoor advertising, which represents a global market value of $20.54 billion in 2022.
Its main advantage is to attract more attention than an advertising message on a medium provided for this purpose (advertising space, online advertising, etc.). The high attendance of the places allows to deliver its commercial/political message in an innovative way. Its success is such that today most large urban areas are subject to wild posting (Carazo Pérez, J. 2022).
The display media are diverse and varied. In principle, we find the wild display:
- On the ground: sidewalks, roads, etc.
- On various vertical supports: street lamps, traffic lights, billboards, etc.
- Indoors: typically in stairwells.
3 benefits of wild posting
Wild posting can be successful when the benefits outweigh the modest fines. However, this way of communicating gives rise to some misunderstandings. To clarify all this, here are the main pros and cons of wild posting. Let’s start by talking about what is a ghost writer and what’s the benefits.
Advantage 1: its low price
This is the most basic advertising there is. More accessible than online communication, and less expensive. Therefore, its return on investment can be excellent! It is indeed less expensive than typical outdoor advertising formats. Posters are often less expensive than traditional print advertising, while garnering more attention.
Benefit 2: It increases brand awareness
It increases brand awareness. Wild posting, like other forms of guerrilla marketing, aims to generate virility on a product/service. The less conventional the ads are, the more impact they will have on brand awareness in the eyes of the general public. Indeed, when people regularly see your posters, it automatically increases the awareness of your brand and your identity.
Advantage 3: very useful to stand out from the competition
It is an important differentiating factor. Wild display redefines you as a bold brand, unafraid to break codes. The sheer drama of wild posting can elicit strong emotional reactions. When prospects see and recognize the effectiveness of a promotion strategy, it can pique their interest, and even build loyal.
3 disadvantages of wild posting
After explaining the main advantages of wild posting, let’s now look at its three major disadvantages.
Disadvantage 1: the significant risk of fines
This is the main negative aspect of wild posting. Indeed, this practice can lead to financial penalties. Depending on the country, there are different types of fines, all with higher or lower amounts:
- In France: the various town halls and prefectures of the country set their own amounts for uncontrolled posting. The most severe of them can impose fines of up to 15,000 euros!
- In the United Kingdom: the British are less severe with regard to this practice. Anyone responsible for an illegal and prolonged posting will be fined £2,500.
- In Belgium: the Communes are responsible for checking the legality of public postings. Without prior authorization, wild advertising can lead to a municipal administrative penalty of around 350 euros. To this amount are added the costs borne by the person in charge of the display to remove his advertising, his sticker, etc.
Disadvantage 2: alienating the political class
Governments in some countries are waging a relentless fight to keep public spaces cleaner. This is particularly the case of the municipality of Paris. She recently took legal action against an agency specializing in “street marketing”.
Why wage this war against wild posting? This is mainly due to two reasons:
- Outdoor advertising: protect users of public roads from the heap of outdoor advertising. This is a topic that has been debated for years in the advertising industry. Indeed, do you need more or fewer messages to be more impactful?
- Control of the public highway: regain control of the messages disseminated to the inhabitants of urban areas.
Disadvantage 3: losing potential customers
Finally, a company that resorts to wild posting gives itself a bold brand image. Indeed, it is a mode of communication outside the beaten track of today, which are the digital communication channels. In short, it is a communication strategy that can prove its worth.
On the other hand, the other side of the coin obscures the picture. Wild posting can tarnish a company’s brand image:
- Lack of control: the advertising displayed can be retouched or even vandalized, which is a risk for the brand image. This is a risk not found in online advertising, for example.
- Feelings of consumers: the uncontrolled posting being divisive, it is not said that users of the public road see this practice in a good light.
Advantages / disadvantages: summary
Behind every positive point hides a negative counterpart for the wild posting. We offer below a general point of view on this marketing practice.
3 examples of wild posting
Using the urban environment to convey a message is a technique that can be applied in various sectors. We have listed 5 examples from the worlds of entertainment and clothing, but also from the political world.
Example 1: Capcom’s viral marketing campaign
In 2008, for the release of its Resident Evil 5 video game, the Japanese publisher Capcom resorted to viral marketing. The operation is called “Song Writing Company”, a reference to the universe of the game in question. A first axis of this campaign was then dedicated to electronic word-of-mouth (a formidable weapon for advocacy marketing). At the same time, a second part concerned wild posting, in several major American cities such as New York, Chicago, or San Francisco (Jeffery, M. 2017).
The goal of the Ki juju campaign is clear: to create excitement around a treasure hunt, both IRL and digital.
Example 2: The day Zynga made a bad financial transaction
As mentioned above, the potential fines must be taken into account before embarking on wild posting. In addition, the benefits brought by the campaign must exceed the legal costs generated by a poster deemed illegal by the authorities. Zynga, an American social game company, paid the price a few years ago.
To launch her Mafia Wars video game, she placed fake banknotes on the ground in several major American cities. Result? Fines collected all over the country. For example, the company had to pay $45,000 to clean up the streets of San Francisco. In the end, the wild posting will taste sour to Zynga. With this blow of com, the publisher will lose more money than he won.
Example 3: when Balenciaga glorifies its street advertisements
During French political elections, it is customary to have spaces reserved for the campaign posters of the various candidates. In 2020, the clothing brand Balenciaga took advantage of this period to get its message across.
“We Vote for Tomorrow” is a marketing stunt placing Balenciaga at the center of conversations, even when it is not invited to the discussion table. The poster proposed by the brand even takes up the format of the visual designs of French political parties. The video below is from Balenciaga’s YouTube channel and showcases the layout of the poster.