In launching Madsoul, an urban streetwear label, in 2000, Marc D'Amelio raised guerrilla marketing to an art form. Take, for example, his sticker campaign. D'Amelio figured out that if he signed up for a United Parcel Service account, he was entitled to an unlimited supply of blank UPS labels. If he bought a Tektronix printer, he was entitled to free black ink. So he signed on with both companies and began printing stickers by the thousands and distributing them at concerts and art festivals around New York City, where Madsoul is based. "If you can't afford to do a $100,000 billboard, and you can't even afford to do a $20,000 print advertisement, you gotta figure out other ways," he says.
D'Amelio also promoted Madsoul through mix tapes of hip-hop music, on the theory that pretty much everybody will take a free album. He discovered that record labels would usually give him the rights to unreleased tracks for free (they saw it as easy publicity), as long as he agreed to mix well-known rappers and brand-new artists on the same album. Between songs, D'Amelio would have the artists record promos like, "Don't forget to check Madsoul out." "It's a great way to convey your brand message," he says. "Ten little commercials to tell people where to buy the product." The cost to him was $1 per tape.
D'Amelio traded clothes for some advertising in a small hip-hop magazine. With other magazines, he says he was always willing to talk to advertising sales reps, but he pushed to get the line coverage in the editorial pages before agreeing to advertise.
The graffiti artists who did Madsoul's graphics weren't used to getting paid for their art. So they were thrilled when D'Amelio offered them a choice of a 10 percent royalty on each T-shirt sold or a flat fee up to $500.