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The flyer showed a Porsche parked in the homeowner’s driveway.

1. How can marketers win the attention of people who throw flyers away without even a glance? Put their house on it. At the end of June, Lowe Roche advertised Toronto luxury car dealership Pfaff Auto by driving a new Porsche to select homes in affluent neighbourhoods. It then photographed the car in each driveway, and designed a personalized flyer for each house with the photo and the tagline: "It's closer than you think." They've seen results: Since then, 36 per cent of those targeted visited the Pfaff website. Digital advertising has brought greater pressure to more traditional formats such as direct mail, agency chief executive officer Monica Ruffo said. Not only that, but "new media permit targeting like never before and create an expectation of 'no waste.'"

2. Did you really mean to choose that candy in the vending machine? Your eyes may be making these choices for you. According to research from Onur Bodur of Montreal's Concordia University, in partnership with researchers at Aston Business School in the U.K. and HEC Paris, consumers are naturally drawn to products that are placed in the horizontal centre of a display. And they are not aware of just how powerful that placement is in their choice. The study recreated retail store displays, and used eye-tracking devices to record visual attention during the process of making a purchasing decision. Records of those eye movements showed that the consumers who took part in the study tended to focus their eyes on the central product in a display, especially in the last few seconds before they made their choice. That last-minute focus on the product had a strong influence on which product in a line-up they decided to buy. The research is relevant to the growing field of "shopper marketing," or influencing consumers' decisions at the point of purchase. The paper, which will be published in the December issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, concludes that consumers might make better decisions if they were more aware of how they are influenced by placement.

3. After 10 years with BMW's Mini brand, agency Taxi Toronto lost the account earlier this month to New York-based Anomaly, which just opened its Toronto office in April. But Taxi decided to generate some goodwill on its way out the door by selling just one more car. Taxi auctioned off its own red Mini on eBay, and the sale closed this week with five bidders, 31 bids, and a final price of $13,301. Taxi is donating proceeds to homeless shelter Covenant House. The pitch process for the Mini account began in March. When BMW Group Canada put out a request for proposal on the account, Taxi opted not to take part because it wanted its decade of work to stand for itself, chief creative officer Steve Mykolyn said. Normally, he said, a review of the account would happen at BMW every three years, but this was the first time the Canadian account had gone through a procurement process. Budweiser was Anomaly's only Canadian account when the office opened, and it worked on the Mini pitch as it built its presence in Toronto. It became Mini's agency of record on July 1.

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4. In a bid to make their ads more likeable, many advertisers use humour. But a new study by U.S. firm Ace Metrix has found that, while funny ads may be endearing, they don't always drive sales. The firm rates ads' effectiveness through surveys about U.S. television commercials. It created the Funny Index by tracking the comments in those surveys, searching for key words such as "funny" or "LOL." The study shows that roughly one in five ads was rated as funny. But the firm found there was no correlation between how funny an ad is and how effective it is. While some ads that rated high on the Funny Index were also effective, it was usually because they were relevant, or communicated information in a clear manner. The highest-rated ad out of 6,500 analyzed in the U.S. for all of 2011 and the first three months of 2012 was for Huggies, featuring a baby urinating with the intensity of a fire hose. It was funny for parents who have been through a particularly gnarly diaper change, but it also effectively communicated the new "leak lock" technology it was meant to sell.

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