This was a fascinating day for coverage of marketing. Just as CBS' Wyatt Andrews did last Tuesday, NBC's Josh Mankiewicz filed one of those delicious biting-the-hand-that-feeds-you features that debunks the Big Pharma ads that pay the bills for the nightly newscasts. What is Restless Leg Syndrome anyway? "Until recently most people, even many doctors, had never heard of it. The drug company GlaxoSmithKline changed that." The medical condition is now publicized relentlessly in ads for prescription Requip. It is nothing new to coin a term in order to raise awareness of a problem in order to market a product to treat it, a marketing expert commented. Halitosis never existed until the 1930s when Listerine invented the term.

Marketing trend #2 was "user generated content." ABC's Betsy Stark (subcription required) gave plenty of free publicity to Frito-Lay. Instead of hiring a Madison Avenue agency to produce its Doritos ad for the NFL Super Bowl telecast, the chipmaker staged a contest for its customers to submit spots. "The quality ranges from surprisingly funny to, well, not so much." Stark showed us a highlight reel from the 1,000 video entries.

Marketing trend #3 was so-called guerrilla tactics. The highways and bridges and underpasses of Boston, and nine other cities, were seeded with signs to publicize Aqua Teen Hunger Force animated TV show on the Cartoon Network. Some suspicious New Englanders thought they might be bombs, not lights, and authorities closed down city infrastructure for fear of a terrorist attack.

ABC, which assigned Dan Harris on Monday to lead with the soft news of the race horse Barbaro's death, led again with trivia. Harris detailed "a day of chaos and concern…and no threat to public safety." No one in the other nine cities thought anything of the signs.


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