My blog yesterday on outdoor advertising and the use of “street teams” created a number of questions. The questions included what are street teams, how are they sponsored, what are they good for, etc. More or less, what in the heck are you talking about? I guess I was writing in shorthand. So here is the long play version of “all about street teams”.

In a nutshell, street teams attempt to promote or advertise something; they create a buzz about an offering or an event. Some say that the music industry started it all when attempting to promote concerts. Using mostly volunteers and devoted fans, the teams were sponsored by the music label or the band itself to generate a buzz for an upcoming show. The rewards for the street team participants generally consisted of free concert tickets, t-shirts, and bragging rights that they worked for the “band”.

The street team did whatever was necessary to promote the band or event; this could include telephone blitzes, parading in costume, posting flyers, text messaging friends, and handing out coupons on the street corner. Anything goes that will promote the band. This method was precise in targeting the customer since it used social networks like buddy lists on cell phones; location also played a big role since they focused on the night clubs where the fans hung out.

These grassroots organizations have now gone main stream with companies specializing in this type of promotion. You may recall political organizations using this technique to get voters to register to vote. Or, you may remember PETA (yes, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) using this method; in fact, street teams are a key component of its marketing strategy. Maybe this seems a bit on the lunatic fringe for you?

How about this? Corporate America knows a good idea when it can steal it; street teams have gone main stream. Apple Computer has used street teams extensively at trade shows to sell iPods, while Hispanic media giant Univision has used street teams to create buzz about its Spanish language programming. The corporate list of street team sponsors now includes FedEx, Verizon, and Warner Brothers, to name a few.

In fact, I have a friend named Rudy Chavarria, Jr. who began his career as a studio runner and street team member for A&M Studios. Rudy loved the music business and found his niche with this type of promotion. Today, Rudy is president of American Amp (, which specializes in college radio, retail, street-team advertising, marketing and promotion. Rudy and his company have gone on to promote Bob Marley CDs and movies like The Passion of Christ and Rocky Balboa. His firm has diversified into marketing private colleges, television, magazines, and the food & beverage industry. His firm is only one of many in this exciting new service business.

Could street teams work for your business? As you can see a well managed street team can create quite a buzz. Imagine a street team composed of tax accountants in three piece suits with matching brief cases chanting “H&R Block Rules!” The mind reels with the possibilities.

John Bradley Jackson
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