Organisational guerrillas

Published by Tony Quinlan on

At the Medinge retreat, Stanley Moss, talking about branded conflict (cf “The Divine Victory”), referred to “Farfour” – a mouse character on Hamas TV.  Clearly a knock off of Mickey Mouse – down to many of the design elements – although the ending of the Farfour story wouldn’t be acceptable anywhere else.


The theme of taking the official voice of one side and distorting/adapting it to speak for the opposition is a fascinating one.  At a different level, it plays often with organisations.

Internally, there’s plenty of evidence of smart individuals who take materials – logos, straplines, posters, etc – from the official channels and adapt them to work counter to the planned story.  I’ve seen posters with new straplines added (one example of where this has been done on a commercial basis is the series of Demotivators posters).

It’s an increasing trend as people get more literate and able to manipulate pictures and video.  And to many comms people, it’s heresy.

“They’ve taken my poster/our mission statement and defiled it.”

And I’ve seen edicts come down banning such outrageous behaviour.

But it’s an inherently human thing.  And a very positive one.  The detail of what they’ve done and the message they’re conveying is excellent feedback on the situation and the communication – look and learn without criticising.  The fact that they’ve done it shows that they’re engaged and passionate – but don’t agree with the direction.  Great – that’s the start of a conversation/debate/discussion.

And any organisation that isn’t robust enough to take some humour about its messages is an organisation that doesn’t really want to employ humans, but robots.

Celebrate the guerillas instead.

Take pictures of the new adaptations.  Put them on the intranet.  Use them as feedback to the comms team, the board.  Use them, thank them.  Invite them into the next planning session.  Get their feedback early and use them.



Richard Hare · 16 September 2007 at 10:42 pm

Don’t know if you’ve read the book “Culture Jam”, Tony? Mentioned in Naomi Klein’s “No Logo”, it talks about how activists use the strength of established brands against them by changing the message, eg. Nike, McDonalds, etc.

Tony Quinlan · 17 September 2007 at 12:13 pm

Thanks Richard, I’ll add that one to the list. I know do something similar, with a very specific purpose in mind, along Klein’s lines.
I’m curious though – we tend to look favourably on this sort of thing outside the organisation, or aimed at ads/marketing efforts, but react differently when it’s inside. Is it just standard “It’s funny when it happens to someone else” repsonses?

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