Wilma! What Happened To The Plain Old Ad?

The TV spot opens with a view of two shiny orbs set against a starry, outer-space expanse. But this isn't 2001: A Space Odyssey. The "orbs" are two bald-headed men bearing rub-on tattoos. It's "Barqtoos II," the latest giveaway gimmick from niche soft-drink marketer Barq's Inc. Barq's has become the No.2 root beer in the U.S., largely owing to a marketing strategy based on such consumer promotions. Barq's doesn't run traditional, warm-and-fuzzy image ads anymore. "We decided that, for us, it was a waste," says Fred C. Walters, director of marketing. The company uses its ads to promote its promotions.

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