And now for something completely different…a hijacking (of sorts).

Hamish Mexted Odds & Ends

I stumbled across this story the other week and was struck by how simple it is to generate free (well, very low cost) publicity through gorilla marketing.

“A few months ago, I noticed…a half-day event…[for] our target customers…with no lunch provided.

I emailed the event organizer about a possible sponsorship. We’re cash strapped and don’t have hardly any extra money, but maybe we could do something for less than $500.00.

I waited a few days, and never got an email back from the organizer. So I started thinking, if lunch isn’t provided, we provide it?

Idea #1
I thought we’d bring a food truck or food to a public space at the event’s location. Then I realized the event was hosted at [a hotel so]…we were likely to get kicked out or shut down pretty quick.

Idea #2
I called their front desk and asked how much a large suite was, thinking maybe we could host a VIP lunch. Nope, suites are too small and too expensive.

Idea #3
I looked for restaurants close by. The search for a restaurant with a private room turned up a few options, but nothing large enough or affordable for us.

Idea #4
I moved my search to local parks–we could bring food and drinks to a park and have a picnic.

Idea #4 was solid, our location would be in a park. But how many people would be at the event? The event organizer wouldn’t return an email or tweet. Their website gave no indication of the size of the event. We called the hotel and…told them we were a sponsor for the…event and gave them the date. We needed to know how many chairs they were instructed to set-up, and they said, “About 300.” So now we knew 300 people might be at this event.

Okay, we had an estimate of the number of attendees and a location, and we needed food, beverages and a way to get the attendees from the venue to the park. Pizza is an easy choice, and …since the pizza spot was a block from the park, they’d hand deliver the pizzas. If we started to run out, we’d just order more, eliminating wasted expense on uneaten pizza.

So the plan…[was] in the park to set up that morning…and [then] head to the hotel for the conference. Once there, they got the lay of the land and then Steve did something uncharacteristic: he asked for permission. He introduced himself to the organizers and explained that we had tried to contact them and what our plan was and was it OK with them to do it. Not only was it OK, they made an announcement about it at the end of the day.

After the event, they stood by the doors and handed out our flyers with info about the lunch and said, “Please join us”. About a third of the attendees came to lunch. Everyone seemed to have a nice time and we made some new friends.”

This story struck me as an exceptionally high profile, and cheap, way of going about marketing. Sure, you can’t track the actual return you’ll get on the pizza spend, but it’s more than going to pay off with new contacts and profile over time. If nothing else it’s a bit of fun!



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