My friend ran for President, and all I got was this lousy TShirt.

It's about time. I’m not easily impressed by most marketing. It’s not that I’m jaded…I’ve just seen a LOT of pitches, promotions, and “new” (read: “recycled, old”) ideas. No big. But every now and then, something comes across my desk that makes me sit up and take notice. Such is the case with http://www.news3online.com. This thing is brilliant.

Few people that are hip to the capabilities of Photoshop and AfterEffects are undully impressed with seeing their photo munged into another. Fair enough. But what if you created what appears to be a legit news story about a grassroots Presidential campaign, and built a dynamic database to capture emails, with the viral “news” story as the lure? Now THAT’S marketing.

Try it. Fill in your name, then send to three friends (or even better, put yourself down as one of the friends, so you can see how this works). You’ll get an email – from you – that directs recipients to the news3online.com website, where they’ll see a video that, for all intents and purposes, looks like a story about YOUR Presidential campaign, complete with bumper stickers, outdoor billboards, bus signage, and tattoos. (!)

If you’re a graphics pro, watch carefully, and you’ll see the seams in the process. The bus signage is the weakest part of the gag, but even it is pretty impressive, when you realize they’re generating this from a call to a database.

Now, stop and think about this…what are they gonna do with all those emails?

My hat’s off to these guys. It’s clever. It’s timely. And it’s gonna harvest a gigantic haul of emails and names. What will be interesting, though, is to see if they are clever/smart/savvy enough to do something smart with the database, and not simply make it some lame-o spam play. Stay tuned…

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