I’ve seen a few dirty tricks in my time. I’ve worked in one form or another in advertising, media sales, contract publishing and business development companies over the past 20 years. I have seen people selling ad space in directories and magazines that would never be published – well maybe just a short print run to send voucher copies to the advertisers and other such techniques that would make the Wolf of Wall Street give the nod of approval to. My moral compass prevented me from staying in that type of organisation for long and, to put things into perspective, I’ve been at Alchemis for 12 years and sleep soundly every night, content in the knowledge that if a customer pays for a service, the work will be carried out.
But reading in Campaign last week about DHL’s recent stunt, I couldn’t help wondering if this kind of underhand tactic is like a declaration of war on their business rivals. Actually, maybe not even a declaration – more like dropping a guerrilla marketing bomb and then announcing “we done you when you weren’t looking” afterwards.
Just in case you have no idea what I’m going on about, DHL’s German agency paid rival logistics companies to deliver overly large packages that are plain to begin with but then reveal huge statements such as DHL IS FASTER in warmer temperatures, as a rival-uniformed courier is struggling to carry them down a busy street. A bit like those coffee mugs that reveal a topless woman (or underpantless man) when you pour hot water into them. You can see the DHL Trojan marketing campaign here.
Will 2014 be the year that organisations try to win new business by infiltrating and disrupting their competitors own efforts for the whole world to see and laugh at? Maybe a bit like a school bully taking a younger child’s hand and forcing him to hit himself in the face?
Maybe they followed the example from the customer who paid for the British Airways promoted tweet advising everyone not to fly with them.
I’m waiting for the repercussions with bated breath. But I must admit, I did smirk at the audacity of it.