Street teams are no doubt, a unique group of enthusiastic individuals who use grassroots efforts in reaching new consumers, efficiently and effectively.Sometimes street teams or brand ambassadors are simply unpaid fans that are just looking to support a cause, but more often than not, they are paid marketing experts. Their guerilla marketing and promotional approaches are asymmetric and offer exposure to areas in which ordinary advertising tactics can’t.

To learn more about why their techniques are successful and determine if they’ll continue to be successful far into the future, it’s important to take a brief look at the history of street teams:

Early-1900s | Newsboys

A_group_of_Nashville_newsies._In_middle_of_group_is_7_year_old_Sam._Smart_and_profane._He_sells_nights_also...._-_NARA_-_523339We all have seen the movies. Any Early 19th century based city has some kid running around screaming “ Batman slaps Robin, read all about it!” (or something of that nature). On every street corner in every major city in America young boys would offer passerby’s the news of the day for a penny a paper. Each morning, these newsboys, often referred to as the “newsies”, would grab a stack from the local publication and swarm out into the city armed with headlines and talking points. Each newsie acted as the publication’s street-level spokesperson as they hawked the day’s paper to everyone who’d listen.

Just like today’s brand ambassadors, you can guarantee the newsies got their cut but at what cost to the publisher? There was obviously a profit to be made then, just as there is now.


1910 to 1960 | Boxing Promotions

Without great promoters, many of the greatest fights in the sport of boxing would never have happened. Boxing promoters much like experiential marketing managers, were the people who planned and organized the fights, invited the boxers, and did the biggest part of promoting the actual fight to the spectators.

Big title fights promoters like Tex Rickard who got heavyweights Jim Jeffries and Jack Johnson to face off in 1910 in what was deemed “The Fight of the Century” was heavily promoted on the streets. Street teams working under Rickard and other boxing promoters used large, brightly colored posters of the fighters to entice people to go out to the next match.

Today Rickard has a large multitude of landmarks honoring his legacy including MSG where many fights are still fought (and promoted) to this day.

A form of this guerrilla tactic that is still practiced today. In many urban neighborhoods you can’t go more than a block without seeing entire walls covered with promos. Yes, it can be considered illegal and not exactly attractive but the fact is it works and someone puts them there.

Today more “legitimate” forms of this practice are carried out quite often. Street corner promoters will often sit outside venues, draw attention and hand out flyers, discounted tickets and sign-up sheets, all at a cost that substantially lower than the profits that are gained. Exposure is the tactic and it works well in when you’re in the right place.

Mid-1970s | KISS Army

kiss2In the mid-1970s, two teenage KISS fans from Indiana formed to create the first recognized promotional team, the KISS Army. This organized street team worked to promote the band to other kids in other neighborhoods by placing stickers and posters throughout the community, passing out CDs in local coffee shops, and phoning in local radio stations to play the latest KISS hits.

This is one of the earliest forms of guerilla marketing tactics. Street team promos have begun to evolve and more edgy methods began to develop. We’ve all seen the guerilla marketing tactics that surface on YouTube and other social media today. They are highly effective but often very risky as many companies have found themselves in legal trouble as a result but when something as simple as a street promotion goes viral the payoff can be epic!

Mid-1990s – Today

trukfitSuch grassroots techniques of hawking products like the newsies, using colorful posters like the boxing promoters, and handing out free product samples like the KISS Army continue to be successful advertising efforts today. It works because instead of an ignored background advertisement, street team promoters offer enthusiastic advertising with personal interactions.