Creative guerrilla marketing or a bizarre warning?

By March 24, 2016General

It may sound like the plot of a low budget horror film, but there have been some strange goings on in Colorado recently.

Students have been discovering a series of bizarre symbols, notes and USB drives on the campuses of thee universities. Left by an unknown individual, police responded to the first report of the bizarre activity on Feb. 27.

Since then, they have recovered over a dozen flash drives, each containing a series of letters and a single sound wave file.

The notes contained a series of numbers and links to a Youtube account, which showed a distorted video showing the silhouette of someone drawing one of the symbols and leaving a flash drive under a tunnel.

Three subsequent videos have been posted. In one, the creator says “there is still a story to unfold,” implying that the activity is set to continue. And in another video, he reassures viewers that the symbols are “messages,” rather than warnings.

Guerrilla marketing stunt?

As you can imagine, the discoveries sparked a huge amount of buzz, and the story is gaining traction with the media.

Theories abound as to a motive, but one of the most prevailing is it’s an elaborate guerrilla marketing stunt, designed to generate interest in an (as yet) unknown cause, or political agenda.

The creator is intentionally letting the meaning of the signs be obscure – forcing the observer to make sense of them, which may well be the point.

The multimedia nature of the activation – which incorporates low cost guerrilla strategies such as social media and graffiti street art, suggest that guerrilla marketing may be at play.

Executing a remarkable guerrilla marketing campaign takes a lot of things: Interruption; surprise; inceptionlike thought control abilities. If this is a guerrilla marketing stunt, it ticks all the boxes.

But until someone manages to decipher the messages, or the creator reveals their identity, it will remain a mystery.

Similar guerrilla marketing campaigns

Similar campaigns have been employed to promote other products, primarily in the media. One example that springs to mind (for all the wrong reasons) is “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

The marketing team tried to execute a 10-city Lite Brite extravaganza, in which Lite Brite works of art, shaped like characters from the movie, were attached to highly-travelled structures like bridges and overpasses, to cause a stir.

Unfortunately, in Boston, the Lite Brite was placed in a busy transportation hub and mistaken for a homemade bomb. Whoops!

Hotcow is a non-traditional creative agency that specialises in experiential marketing that goes viral. Our campaigns generate buzz through crowd participation, PR and content sharing. Contact us on 0207 5030442 or email us on