Why The Scooters Have Polka Dots Target and others embrace stunts to cut through the clutter.
By Devin Leonard

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Target may not have a New York City store, but it still wanted to do business in the Big Apple at Christmastime in 2002. Its ad agency, Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, came up with the idea of putting a store in a boat on the West Side waterfront. It sent out "crew members" on Vespa scooters covered in Target logos to hand out boarding passes.

Target isn't the only company trying to ambush consumers at a time when traditional ads aren't delivering the audiences they once did. Companies are more willing to experiment than ever. The result is some pretty arresting advertising--and you are likely to see a lot more in years to come.

When BMW rolled out the Mini Cooper in the U.S., its agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, didn't bother with TV commercials. It put giant pay phones and trash cans in airports, and hung Mini billboards beside them reading, MAKES EVERYTHING ELSE SEEM A LITTLE TOO BIG. The agency hoisted a Mini atop an SUV and drove it around San Francisco.

Polaroid went under the radar by sponsoring parties for the hip-hop duo OutKast. Its logo was nowhere in sight, but its agency, Euro RSCG Worldwide, handed out cameras to celebrities so that they could snap photos and shake them at each other as OutKast commands in its hit song "Hey Ya!" Coca-Cola also tapped the hip-hop crowd to bring street cred to Sprite ReMix. Cornerstone Promotion, its guerrilla-marketing firm, distributed new editions of out-of-print rap records on green vinyl with the Sprite logo to disc jockeys. "The DJs love 'em," says Rob Stone, co-founder of Cornerstone. "They've worn out all their old copies." --D.L.