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UPS revs up popular 'Race the Truck' campaign

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IN THE FIFTH YEAR OF ITS NASCAR SPONSORSHIP of Dale Jarrett and the Robert Yates Racing No. 88 Ford Taurus, shipping company UPS may finally get what it wants: to race the big brown truck. The company's tongue-in-cheek "Race the Truck" campaign debuted in 2001 with clever print and TV executions featuring the tagline, "We want to race the truck. People love the truck." Since the inception of the campaign, the ads have told the evolving story of how UPS executives and NASCAR fans have repeatedly asked Jarrett to race a UPS delivery truck-only to be refused. The 2004 print ads, for instance, extol UPS trucks' heft and bulk, in one execution noting, "When you're racing a vehicle with side mirrors the size of elephant ears, it's easy to see who's eating your dust." In the newest 30- and 60-second TV spots, which debuted Feb. 20 during coverage of the Daytona 500, Jarrett finally caves and agrees to drive a UPS truck. Any chance that he'll race the big brown truck-which according to the UPS Web site has a top speed of 70mph-not just in a commercial but in real life? "We'll have to keep you guessing with that," UPS spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg said, adding that NASCAR has certain specifications that cars must meet. "We're in discussions with NASCAR about how UPS vehicles would connect with those specifications."

THE WORD OF MOUTH MARKETING ASSOCIATION is putting its marketing where its mouth is. The association, founded in October 2004, will host its first-ever Word of Mouth Marketing Conference March 29-30 in Chicago. To publicize the event, the group has used-you guessed it-several word-of-mouth tactics to generate buzz and draw attendees. "To prove word of mouth works, we asked every one of our speakers to tell every one of their friends to tell every one of their friends," said Andy Sernovitz, CEO of the association, which goes by the endearingly bizarre acronym of WOMMA. "And it's working." In addition to creating a blog and e-mail newsletters about the conference, WOMMA gave each member company an individual discount code to pass along to clients and partners. As of press time (three weeks before the event) the organization had about 100 registrants, out of a maximum of 250 available spots. Sernovitz argues that word-of-mouth marketing is even more important for b-to-b marketers than it is for their consumer marketing counterparts. "You don't make big, sophisticated, complicated purchases without talking to friends and associates who have used the product before," he said. For more information on the conference, visit www.womma.org/summit.

SHOULD YOU BE SCARED OF "PODCASTING"? Sure, it sounds like that's what diabolical sci-fi villains do once they've body-snatched a WOMMA, but there's nothing to fear, according to Joe Norris, managing partner of ad agency Sullivan Higdon & Sink. Not long ago, this column detailed SHS' 33 1/3 birthday radio broadcast. Now, the agency is exploring what podcasting-whereby a subscriber receives audio programs delivered via the Internet-can do for its clients. SHS has started podcasting "American Copywriter," a weekly advertising show hosted by Kansas City creatives John January and Tug McTighe, from www.wehatesheep.com/ americancopywriter.com. "Honestly, it's not that difficult at all; and you don't have to be a tech geek to figure it out," Norris said. "We're using our own podcast as a test bed to help determine the medium's potential as a viable marketing tool for our clients." Another company, competitive intelligence provider Cerado , is also betting that sales and marketing types will take to podcasting. Cerado is now providing its intelligence reports in MP3 audio format for, say, a sales exec who is driving to a client site and needs to listen to a last-minute refresher on the competition's vital stats.

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