Two for Tuesday: Growing from Grassroots

Two for Tuesday: Growing from Grassroots

It’s no secret that people like to avoid advertisements, so brands incorporate advertising more subtly into people’s everyday lives. While native advertising and product placements are popular among today’s brands, one especially effective method that’s been making a comeback recently is grassroots marketing. With the audience itself serving as brand representatives, grassroots campaigns eliminate what some people consider the bias of ads. If people you know are advocating for a brand, it seems more trustworthy. This Two for Tuesday, we’ll look at a couple of this summer’s notable grassroots campaigns to see the pros and cons of this marketing platform.


Syfy’s latest feature, Sharknado, both exalts in and parodies the poor writing, premise and effects of B movies. The film was unusual in that it was barely advertised but generated considerable social media buzz (to the tune of some 600,000 tweets). Posters and trailers were seeded to movie sites in advance, but otherwise Syfy stepped back and let the movie speak for itself.


Some are attributing the success of this movie to the grassroots campaign, which ran counter to the barrage of advertisements for your typical summer blockbuster. By allowing people to pass on information about the movie directly to their peers, audiences were given the chance to say they’d “discovered” the movie themselves, making it seem more interesting.

But what at first looks like a surprise success turned out to be more a bust than a blockbuster. Sharknado’s ratings were modest to poor by Syfy movie standards, generating only a 0.4 Nielsen rating according to The Atlantic (their movies typically receive twice that). The marketing success disproportionately translated to social media buzz rather than actual viewers. So as much as we like social media buzz, it doesn’t always correlate very well to action. Sharknado  shows that grassroots marketing is no substitute to traditional advertising, but if Syfy were looking to make an impact on the demographic that uses Twitter, then they would have succeeded. What this suggests is that with the right targeting, grassroots marketing can be extremely useful.

Restore the Fourth

After the initial reveal of the extent of the NSA’s surveillance measures, many Americans were upset over what they perceived as privacy violations. The movement known as “Restore the Fourth” arose with the intention of protesting the violation of the Fourth Amendment on the Fourth of July. About 20,000 people participated in the protests in major cities, expressing their disapproval.



It remains to be seen if the protests made enough of an impact to fulfill their goals, although one thing going for them is that they had specific goals in mind, unlike the Occupy movement. If nothing else, the group increased the profile of those who feel this way about their information. Whether the Restore the Fourth movement holds together now that this demonstration is over is another question entirely.

Cover Photo Source: net_efekt via Flickr

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Kaz is a Junior Executive at SJG. He earned BAs in English Writing and Business Marketing at Illinois Wesleyan University and is currently pursuing an MA in Advertising at The University of Texas at Austin. Outside the office, Kaz consumes gobs of media including but not limited to books, magazines, music, movies and television.[/author_info] [/author]