Oh, look - there's Google, with gift cards in a Wal-Mart store - right next to Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse (who is co-branding with Tim McGraw to get attention for both) and Chili's (which really is an ad for four separate eateries within the corporate umbrella) and Apple iTunes store.
The checkout at Wal-Mart - that's a place where you get some attention, right? It's a nice toll booth for big companies.
Here's another way to get attention ... you can astroturf somebody taking over your Twitter feed (click here). And that "works", right? Read this (click here). The data (mind you, it's not sales data, it's not profit data, it's not people in the store data, it's not the data that you or I or your CFO use to prove that something works) prove that hacking your own account is worth it - you get attention.
Or you can pull a bunch of stunts on the VMAs and really get some attention (click here).
The further we are separated from merchandise, from selling, and from profit, the more attention we seek, hoping to convert attention into sales.
Look at your ad-to-sales ratio ... this is a good way to measure how effective you are at purchasing attention. The best companies don't have to pay for attention.
Great companies (and humans) don't need to be outrageous or dishonest, either.
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