Also known as stealth marketing, under the radar marketing sidesteps the typical settings and techniques used by commercial advertising. It uses unconventional tactics, often on a low budget, to advertise products surreptitiously. Sometimes, the audience doesn’t even realize they are the target of a marketing campaign. The term is based on the idiom “flying under the radar”, which refers to the military aircraft tactic of flying at a low altitude to avoid detection.
Getting the attention of consumers is a challenge in a world already overwhelmed by commercials, promotions and other forms of overt marketing. Companies use under the radar marketing techniques to advertise their products in a fresh way that attracts the attention of viewers and listeners who are jaded by traditional marketing techniques and automatically tune out ads. The goal is to make consumers feel they are making decisions based on information from an impartial source, not on a sales pitch scripted by the company selling the product or service.
Under the radar marketing seamlessly blends ads so they appear natural and unobtrusive. Instead of using special effects, the endorsement of a celebrity or placing flashy commercials on prime-time advertising slots, it connects with people on a more direct and emotional level. For example, companies will pay attractive or influential people to use their products in public, place favorable reviews online or just talk up the products with their friends. To illustrate, Sony-Erickson, the mobile telephone manufacturer, paid two actors to use one of the company’s new cellphone models in New York City’s Times Square. The actors, who posed as a regular couple, would ask complete strangers if they would mind taking a picture of them and then would use the opportunity to explain how the camera worked and highlight its main features.
When successful, under the radar marketing avoids the mental defenses consumers put up when they feel they are been sold something, such as critical judgment or cynicism, an obvious advantage for companies who wish to influence the behavior of potential clients. It can also be cheaper than marketing campaigns in more established mediums, such as radio or television, which makes it popular with start-ups and companies with smaller marketing budgets.
A popular under the radar marketing method is product placement. This technique places products in popular media outlets, such as TV programs and movies. The program will either display or refer to a product or service as if it were a regular prop of the show, not as an ad. To illustrate, luxury automobile companies BMW and Austin Martin have paid to have James Bond driving one of their models, which the same fictional spy crashed into a British Airways billboard and a Perrier truck.
While that may sound the domain of big business, utilising these techniques with your own communications will see you advertising more effectively.