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Permit vs Guerrilla Street Teams – Which One is Best for Your Brand?


Street team activations are a great way to build brand awareness, generate buzz and increase market visibility. It is also very cost-effective since it can reach thousands of people in a short period of time. Although very effective, one of the biggest decisions brands are faced with is whether they should or shouldn’t get permits for the activation.

The decision that’s right for your activation depends on a number of factors. Let’s explore the pros and cons of both options.


With Permits

A permit is when a brand gets permission from the local council or relevant land owner to carry out its activation in a particular area. These permits are booked in advance and usually incur a cost.


  • The entire activation will be pre-booked which makes it easier to schedule all other requirements around it accordingly including staffing and logistics.
  • You will have permission to carry out the activation so there is no risk of being fined or being asked to ‘move on’.
  • You can pick from the permitted areas where you want to set up your site to ensure the most foot traffic and exposure.
  • You will have exclusive access to the site you book meaning no competitors or any other brands will be in your activation space at the same time.
  • Power and/or water are often accessible, depending on your site booking.
  • You usually have access to a loading bay if required, to set up and unload products and samples.


  • Once the bookings are made, you’re restricted to activate in the area that has been booked. If the weather is too hot, it rains or the foot traffic isn’t ideal on the day, you cannot move areas which may mean the activation is less effective.
  • Depending on your booking, you may not be permitted to roam which may restrict the number of people you reach.
  • If you need to cancel or postpone the activation, there may be a high cost involved depending on the cancellation policy you agreed on.
  • The site booking is for certain day/s and times and this cannot be altered once booked, pending the venue’s cancellation policy.
  • You usually have strict times when you can/cannot access the site for a bump in/bump out.
  • You must adhere to the Council’s or landlord’s guidelines at all times. This may affect how you activate, where you stand, where you set up, what you give out and how much you give out.


Without Permits (Guerrilla)

Guerrilla activations are where the roaming team go-to destinations and promotes or gives out samples of products, without any Council or other relevant bodies’ permission to do so. Usually, if caught or asked to move on, the roaming team will jump into a vehicle and go to their next location, again without a permit.


  • There are no restrictions on the area you can activate. You can freely move to the most appropriate locations on the day depending on the weather and foot traffic.
  • The event staffing team can split up and reach different areas on the same day at the same time. This can include train stations where you have staff at each exit or entrance.
  • You have much more flexibility in changing days/times/locations at short notice.
  • You can set your own rules. How you activate will be up to the brand and not dependent on regulatory guidelines.
  • The excitement and thrill that comes with guerilla marketing are always fun, and as long as you have an agency that is 100% on the ball and managing it every step of the way it can be very successful!


  • You may get fined by the Council for activation without a permit. Fines are usually issued to the brand ambassadors, not the brand, however, the brand will need to foot the bill.
  • Competing businesses may dob you in or inform the council which again will result in a fine. They may also post negative comments and images on social media which reflect badly on the brand.
  • The brand ambassadors may get asked to ‘move on.’ This means the team may need to move to a less-than-ideal area if they are not permitted in the best high-traffic area.
  • You may get angry members of the public or other business owners who are annoyed that the brand doesn’t have permission to do the activation and may be losing business due to the free giveaways. This can have a negative impact on the brand and result in complaints directly to the brand.

In a nutshell, if your brand likes to do everything by the book, you should stick to permitted activations and if your brand loves to think outside the box and play on the riskier side of life, guerilla is probably a better choice!

Street team activations are a great way to promote a brand’s new product or get people to try samples. With over 10 years of experience in both types of street team promotions, Black Diamond Agency can lead you in the right direction and help find the best option for your brand.


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