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A few days ago I was thinking about some of the 20th century's greatest advertising campaigns, trying to imagine what they would look like if launched in 2007. What would the Marlboro Man's MySpace page look like? And how many friends would he have? How many "Where's the beef?" video spoofs would be on YouTube? And how many hair care blogs would weigh the merits of "Does she–or doesn't she...?"


If only these great campaigns had social media at their hands. Then again, perhaps they did.
Sometime during the 1920s, Alan Odell of Burma-Shave decided to put up a series of four signs along a highway to promote his father's product. They read something like this: Dinah doesn't / treat him right / but if he'd / shave / dyna-mite! / Burma-Shave/
Always with a bent of humor, and ultimately in rhyme, this creative use of a billboard became the ultimate social media campaign. The sequential nature of the signs involved the consumer, sparked conversation, and increased sales.
The social nature of the medium didn't stop there. User-generated content was encouraged in an annual jingle contest, and overseas GIs went posted Burma-Shave signs wherever they went. In later years, a Tom Waits song would make reference to the campaign, as would the final episode of M*A*S*H.
The mere fact that we are still talking about these signs today suggests that perhaps Odell deserves a spot in the Museum of Social Media. It also suggests that media has always been social, that all great advertising campaigns will always be talked about, and that your customers have always been your best brand stewards.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

www.saraholoubek.com
Sara Holoubek is a free agent consultant, advising growth firms and investors in the interactive technology and advertising sector. Ms. Holoubek is also the contributing editor of the DM News' SearchBuzz newsletter, and a regular author of the DM News Optimized column.

In 2008 Ms. Holoubek was elected to the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO) board of directors for a third term. During this time she also co-founded the SEMPO NY Working Group.

From 2003-2005, Ms. Holoubek served as iCrossing's Chief Strategy Officer, building the firm's New York office and repositioning the iCrossing brand as it raised an early VC round of $13 million. Prior to this experience, Ms. Holoubek held posts in client strategy with interactive agencies Organic and Blue Dingo. Her vertical expertise covers over 10 sectors and includes work with Levi Strauss & Co, Bloomingdales, LexisNexis, Texas Instruments, Colgate-Palmolive, Century 21 Real Estate, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, as well as firms within the WPP family and the Aegis Group family.

Ms. Holoubek has contributed to and/or been quoted in publications such as Adweek, DM News, Mediapost's Search Insider, WSJ.com, The Madison Avenue Journal, ClickZ and Internet Retailer. She also serves as a frequent guest lecturer at venues such as SMX, Search Engine Strategies, OMMA, the DMA, Harvard, NYU and Baruch College.

Ms. Holoubek also brings an international perspective to her work, having lived and worked in Latin America and Europe , and is fluent in Spanish and French and conversant in Portuguese. She holds a B.A. from the University of Iowa and an M.B.A. from HEC in France. She resides in New York City with her husband, baritone Claudio Mascarenhas.