10 Big ideas in marketing

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1. BeoCom 2

Quite possibly the coolest-looking phone on the planet, the BeoCom 2 isn't just a case of style over substance. The mechanics are just as important: The ring tone, for example, is designed to be the opposite of the shrill, urgent tones most people are used to. Bang & Olufsen's BeoCom 2 " announces its presence in a friendly way with a more natural and tranquil tune" and includes a visual flashing light cue. Plus, users can turn down the volume of their TV or music with keypad controls right on the phone.

2. Tech-No-Color M&M's

Before making a bold color play in packaging and product for M&M's this year, Masterfoods USA rolled out 37 million packages of the chocolate candies completely sans color. The black-and-white varieties, touted via ads that placed the usually vibrant-hued M&M spokescharacters into a black-and-white scene of "The Wizard the Oz," were part of a "Great Color Quest" promotion. The "reintroduction" of the brand featured a newly brighter mix of colors for the M&M's themselves and their packages.

3. WOOT!

Online retailer Woot takes the notion of exclusive to the extreme and offers just one consumer electronics product for sale each day. And that's the trick-the single ware goes on sale at midnight and when inventory is sold out, sales are over. Woot has crafted a neat marketing gimmick that not only inspires devotees to log in every night, but this singular sensation also garners good street buzz among anti-marketing tech types.

4. Yahoo Personals Mile High Club

One of the ugly parts about Internet dating is the risk for potential callers to fake their identity, not to mention their looks. So Yahoo's in-house team put Julie, a real single, on a Hollywood billboard for three days as she went through eight live dates. Subscriptions grew by 199% and profile creation jumped 250% (according to a Marketing Agencies Association Worldwide awards release).

5. ESPN The Flavor

At first glance, you'd think Gatorade's ESPN-The Flavor would smell like team spirit and taste like-well, cherry, in fact. Gatorade's commemorative version for the venerable network's 25th anniversary is an example of a reverse product placement that stretches the bounds of co-branding and limited-time flavors. The concept allowed Pepsi to leverage short-term sales gains and new-product news while avoiding long-term space and sales-growth challenges.

6. Vanity Stamps

The U.S. Postal Service already has tabled its experiment that gave consumers the same chance to create custom stamps-think vanity license plates-because anybody, including terrorists and pranksters, as well as brides and moms-to-be could use them. But the idea has its merits and is worth fixing the operational chinks. Among the more controversial stamps: the Gadfly Web site the Smoking Gun made as an experiment to test USPS censors and the infamous Monica Lewinsky dress.

7. ChickenFight

Burger King's new partnership with MDC-backed Crispin, Porter & Bogusky, Miami, has spawned an entire portfolio of marketing innovation. Sure, there's the host of product-aligned ad characters such as the Office Gang, WhopperHeads, Dr. Angus and Honbatz, but Burger King's Subservient Chicken and DirectTV-aired pugilist birds TC and Spicy have put the No. 2 fast feeder's marketing in a whole new stratosphere of sophistication and cool.

8. Starbucks: The Album

Starbucks is giving customers yet another way to feed its caffeine addiction with jazz and R&B and Gospel. The coffee chain showed the music industry that retail isn't a dead distribution system when it co-produced Ray Charles' smash "Genius Loves Company" and launched the first of its Hear Music coffee bars. In doing so, Starbucks created a new revenue stream on its way to world domination-not to mention an enjoyable way for coffee junkies to kill time while waiting for a half-caf venti mocha latte.

9. Target's Wake-up Call

Many consumers might as well have ignored it, but dedicated post-Thanksgiving Target shoppers took up the retailer on an offer for an early morning wake-up call to beat the crowds. Virally seeded on the Web, the promotion offered 10 possible recorded calls-Heidi Klum, Darth Vader and Ice T proved most popular. The campaign woke up the retailer's sales on one of the most important selling days of the year as the behemoth Wal-Mart slept in. At least for a day.

10. Viagra Value Card

In what has to be the most interesting twist yet on "relationship" marketing, Pfizer in one fell swoop is bound to turn those with fear of flying into frequent fliers, borrowing from the airline industry's popular loyalty programs with one of its own. Pfizer's promotion gives consumers a seventh free dose of erectile-dysfunction drug Viagra for every six purchased, a first for the Rx business. We can only hope for the same deal on birth-control packs.

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