How we started Social Guerrilla Marketing

Our Social Guerrilla Marketing started in 2015 almost by accident working with the Student Book Store. The store’s mascot, Bookie the Bear, had been all but forgotten.

We wanted to resurrect his presence on social media by having him take over the store’s Twitter account for the week in #BookieTakeover. For that we’d stage photos and have the mascot take unconventional photos like Bookie diving into a dumpster, riding the Nittany Lion statue or sitting among students in the Hub.

For a few hours any many miles we walked on campus, one of us – a lucky intern of course – in a very sweat-inducing costume. We got just about all the shots we wanted and considered the shoot a success. Including a chance encounter with another mascot known to Penn Staters across the country — The Nittany Lion himself, who also tweeted a photo of the encounter, though later deleted it, likely after discovering The Student Book store directly competes with the Penn State Book Store.

What we didn’t anticipate was the live, experiential marketing benefit of the promotion, with many students and strangers reacting very positively to the promo and Bookie the Bear.

Moving forward we wanted to better plan and encourage both the social media effects but also the in-person experiential-marketing promo — thus our Social Guerrilla Marketing was born.

It certainly made a mark in our community, generating buzz in the streets, on social media and in the news. Onward State, the student-run news site, picked up the story shortly thereafter in Bookie The Bear: The Student Book Store’s Resurrected (And Creepy) Mascot by Mike Reisman.

On any given day, you can see a near innumerable number of strange things on campus, from students unicycling to class, to a guy in a red sweatshirt screaming at you about your sins, and even a girl putting a hat on a squirrelRecently, however, some students may have seen something even stranger: a human-sized blue bear walking around campus committing atrocities like ruining Oreos, and eating food at the HUB while staring aimlessly into space.

The National Association of College Stores, NACS, also spotted our promo and recognized how The Student Book Store had updated its old mascot. In Campus Marketplace, Student Store Brings Back Bookie the Bear by Dan Angelo

Once we did the #BookieTakeover of our Twitter account, he kind of took off,” The Student Book Store’s Michael Woytowich said. “A lot of people were interested in what we were doing. We actually had students take time out of their studying to take snapshots of themselves with the bear. We had a lot of fun with it and were encouraged with the response.

Since that first promo in 2015, we’ve now executed another half a dozen promos — for restaurants, retailers, public transit agencies and now grocery delivery services. Clients including Harpers in downtown State College; AMTRAN in Altoona, Pa; Go2Gro grocery delivery in State College; and more. Featuring Instagram photo frames; Halloween accessories; a wooden whale for Vineyard Vines mascot, Whaley; a giant Weis grocery bag; a man-sized Tomato costume; thousands of impressions and experiences for clients, fans and our agency.

Published by Eric Zimmett

Principal at Braden Social Media

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