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Selling is Back:
The new future of advertising

by Mat Zucker (artwork by Doug Munson)

For more than a decade, advertising has been trying to entertain us with how clever it is. TV commercials with plots. Magazine ads with holograms. Web sites with sock puppets. Now, driven by big advances in digital and the need for real results in a recession, advertising is thankfully returning to the art of creative selling.
            Yesterday, a potential advertiser would only have planned on creating a feel-good banner ad to be placed on a website's home page; but today, the marketer needs to both catch our attention and earn our participation. More frequent programs, innovative mobile marketing, and even provocative stunts are replacing traditional annual campaigns featuring TV spots and print ads. This is a good thing.

Burger King is creatively selling.
Last year on Facebook, Burger King's "Whopper Sacrifice" program tested people's love of the Whopper against the false friendship of too many Facebook friends. Just delete 10 friends, and the program promised you one free Whopper. Facebook banned the campaign for breaking its terms of service, but not before 200,000 friends were sacrificed in one week, driving store traffic for Whopper trial and earning awards at industry shows. Only months later, Burger King unveiled a series of controversial web videos called "Whopper Virgins," documenting newbies in remote areas of the world (Transylvania!) with their first taste of a Burger King Whopper. Part advertising, part stunt, the effort earned tons of buzz, which helped fuel its success beyond regular media channels.

VW is hitting it.
You may also have seen VW's new "Punch Dub" campaign. It harkens back to the 1960s punch buggy game when you punch your buddy's shoulder when you see a VW. VW has serious sales goals in the U.S., and they've brought back the game to help them be more wanted, more talked about and more popular than ever. It's a unique brand experience, and one you can now do via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, in-person and yes, even on TV. There are rules. There are tools. There are prizes.
            This is the new future of advertising. You can expect to see more programs that use social media and a provocative idea to connect your favorite brands to your personal networks.

Addictive apps create advertising that's useful.
Web-based tools from brands have been around for years, but it's the app craze for the iPhone that caused widespread adoption, even making the word part of our lexicon. There are shopping apps using GPS such as MasterCard's Priceless Picks, Starbucks, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. The best are both useful and addictive. "The Puma Index" is a stock ticker with a sexy twist to promote its Bodygear line. Choose between a male and female model, and as the market goes down, a piece of clothing comes off. When the market's closed, the perve in us can watch the pretty people sleep.

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