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There are some marketing ideas that seem so sensible, on target and appealing that, once proposed or implemented, we ask why it took so long for their potential to be seen.

And it's part of the excitement of the advertising and marketing business that there is no predicting where they will surface or who will have the instinct to turn the idea into reality.

This past Christmas season, for example, handgun control was given a new life as a cause-marketing platform through a brilliant "toys-for-guns" program.

And another exciting idea-in-waiting, though hardly as serious an issue as handguns, seems to us closer to reality: a real championship series for college football.

The toys-for-guns idea was the inspiration of a New York carpet dealer, who offered $100 Toys "R" Us gift certificates to residents in a crime-ridden New York neighborhood who turned in a handgun to the police.

Critics rightly point out this is no solution for urban handgun violence, but the program offered a simple, direct, understandable and measurable way to at least start to do something. No wonder smart marketers like Toys "R" Us itself, Foot Locker and Reebok stepped in with more cash when the initial $5,000 put up by the carpet dealer was exhausted.

A college football championship determined on the field, not in the polls, will look just as sensible (and draw big audiences) once it becomes a reality.

For marketers hungry for 1994's big ideas, they're out there. Just be ready.M

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