Wild posting is a marketing practice that is part of outdoor advertising. We see it every day in large urban centers. We find it on electric poles, traffic lights, or stairwells. It’s a way to transmit your commercial (or political) message outside social networks. It has many advantages and disadvantages that we present in a summary table. This article explains the ins and outs of this bold communication strategy before giving 3 notable examples of wild posting.
- What is wild posting?
- 3 advantages of wild posting
- 3 disadvantages of wild posting
- Advantages / disadvantages: summary
- 3 examples of wild posting
All about wild posting in 30 seconds
- Wild posting gives an “out of the box” brand image, sometimes too bold in the eyes of consumers.
- This practice is used by many advertisers, although it is widely considered illegal.
- It is part of the outdoor advertising segment worth $20.54 billion worldwide in 2022.
- In Europe, fines range from 350 to 15,000 euros.
- This technique increases brand awareness, which has a way of irritating public authorities.
Wild posting is usually political posting or advertising related to guerrilla marketing operations. It has roots in traditional advertising, such as billboards, city lights, and other outdoor activities (Sharma, R. 2014).
Nevertheless, this practice is mostly illegal under the law. However, this “Out-of-Home advertising” format can be interesting, given the potential it embodies. Indeed, this segment is part of the traditional outdoor advertising industry, representing a global market value of 20.54 billion dollars in 2022.
Its main advantage is that it attracts more attention than an advertising message on a dedicated medium (advertising spaces, online advertising, and so on). The high traffic of the places allows it to deliver its commercial/political message innovatively. Its success is such that today, most large urban areas are subject to wild posting (Cerezo Pérez, J. 2022).
The supports for posting are various and varied. In principle, you can find wild posting:
- on the ground: sidewalks, roads, and so on.
- on various vertical supports: lamp posts, signalization lights, billboards, etc.
- indoors: typically, in stairwells.
Wild posting can be successful if the benefits outweigh the modest fines. However, some things need to be clarified about this way of communicating. To clarify all this, here are the main advantages and disadvantages of flyposting. Let’s start with the advantages.
Advantage 1: its low cost
It is the most basic form of advertising. 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 attracting more attention.
Advantage 2: it increases brand awareness
Like other forms of guerrilla marketing, wild posting aims to generate virality about a product/service. It increases brand awareness. 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 see your posters regularly, it automatically increases your brand’s awareness and identity.
Advantage 3: very useful to stand out from the competition
It’s an important differentiating factor. Wild posting redefines you as a bold brand, not afraid to break the codes. The sheer drama of wild posting can evoke strong emotional responses. When prospects see the effectiveness of a promotional strategy, it can spark their interest and even build loyalty.
After explaining the main advantages of wild posting, let’s now focus on its three major disadvantages.
Disadvantage 1: the high risk of fines
This is the main negative aspect of wild posting. Indeed, this practice can lead to financial sanctions. Depending on the country, there are different types of fines, all with more or less high amounts:
- in France: the different town halls and prefectures of the country set their amounts for wild posting. The most severe of them can impose fines of up to 15,000 euros!
- in the United Kingdom: the British are less severe towards this practice. Anyone responsible for illegal and prolonged posting will be fined £2,500.
- in Belgium: The Communes are responsible for controlling the legality of public display. Without prior authorization, unauthorized advertising can result in a municipal administrative penalty of around 350 euros. In addition to this amount, the person responsible for the posting must pay for the removal of the advertisement, the sticker, and so on.
Disadvantage 2: alienating the authorities
The authorities in some countries are fighting a relentless battle to clean public spaces. This is notably the case in the municipality of Paris. It recently took legal action against an agency specializing in “street marketing.”
Why wage this war against wild posting? There are two main reasons:
- Outdoor Advertising: To soften the blow to public road users in the face of outdoor advertising clutter.
- Controlling the high street: taking back control of the messages broadcast to urban residents. This topic has been debated for years in the advertising industry. Indeed, do we need more or fewer messages to be more impactful?
Disadvantage 3: losing potential customers
Finally, a company using wild posting grants itself a daring brand image. Indeed, it is a mode of communication off the beaten track of today’s digital communication channels. In short, it is a communication strategy that can prove itself.
On the other hand, the other side of the coin obscures the tableau. Wild posting can tarnish a company’s brand image:
- Lack of control: posted advertising can be retouched or even vandalized, which risks brand image. This is a risk not found in online advertising, for example.
- Consumer sentiment: since wild posting is divisive, it is not clear that street users view this practice favorably.
Behind every positive point, there is a negative counterpart for flyposting. We propose below a general point of view on this marketing practice.
|The impact of wild posting||Advantage||Disadvantage|
|On the wallet||A very inexpensive marketing operation||A practice that flirts with the law, resulting in exposure to heavy fines|
|On a company’s reputation||High exposure, especially in highly urbanized areas||Possibility of incurring the wrath of the authorities|
|On the brand image||To be perceived as an entrepreneurial company, to become the center of attention of consumers||Loss of control over this brand image, potentially negative for the company|
Using the urban environment to get a message across is a technique that can be applied in various sectors. We have listed 5 examples from the entertainment and clothing industries and the world of politics.
In 2008, for the release of its video game Resident Evil 5, the Japanese publisher Capcom used viral marketing. The operation was called “Kijuju,” a reference to the game’s universe. The first part of this campaign was dedicated to electronic word-of-mouth (a formidable weapon for advocacy marketing). At the same time, a second component concerned wild posting in several large American cities such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco (Jeffery, M. 2017).
The goal of the Kijuju campaign is clear: to create excitement around a treasure hunt, both IRL and digital.
As mentioned above, you should consider the potential fines before engaging in wild posting. In addition, the benefits of the campaign must outweigh the legal costs of illegal posting. Zynga, an American social gaming company, paid the price a few years ago.
To launch its video game Mafia Wars, it placed counterfeit money on the ground in several large American cities. The result? They collected fines 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 have a bitter taste for Zynga. With this PR stunt, the publisher will lose more money than it earned.
During the French political elections, it is customary to have places 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 putting Balenciaga at the center of conversations, even when they were not invited to the debate table. The poster proposed by the brand even follows the format of the visual designs of French political parties. The video below comes from Balenciaga’s YouTube channel and highlights the poster’s layout.