Under normal circumstances, writes Dylan Boyd in a post at The Email Wars, the use of animated GIFs in email campaigns can be a dicey proposition. "[S]ometimes they work with a promo or special event," he says, "sometimes they just make things look cheap." Either way, it's a risk probably not worth taking. Unless you're truly clever.

Boyd admits he thought he had opened junk when a recent email—purportedly from Lexus—contained a blank page with what appeared to be the empty search box from a browser.

But then the animation began, and search terms started to fill the box.

Luxury...power…low emissions. Finally, he saw the results—an image of the 2010 RX Hybrid appeared beneath the search box, along with copy about its high levels of refinement, efficiency and performance.

"I think I might have looked at it 30-plus times and shown it to 4-5 people already," he notes. "Maybe it was the car, but I have really thought that the idea behind the use of this was good."

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