John McCain got people talking when he aired an ad that compared Barack Obama to style-over-substance celebrities like Paris Hilton; but the conversation really picked up when Hilton shot back with an entertaining rebuttal at the comedic website Funny or Die. Reclined on a chaise lounge—and attired in high heels and a revealing swimsuit—the celebutante outlined her own energy plan, a policy-wonkish hybrid of the McCain and Obama proposals, while also taking self-deprecating jabs at her vapid image.

"Infectious video content like the Paris video spreads like wildfire across the Web in under a week," says Chrysi Philalithes in a post at MediaPost's Search Insider. She notes that Google searches using the term "Paris Hilton" began to spike on August 5 and peaked on August 8 with a five-fold increase over normal volume.

Only a few companies seemed to capitalize on this heightened interest in paid search campaigns. When Philalithes googled Hilton's name, a paltry two ads appeared: one for Funny or Die and the other for Jeremiah Weed, which led not to the bourbon-maker's website but to the company's own YouTube reaction to Hilton's video. "Company strategists have recognized a pop and political cultural moment and are piggy-backing on to it to promote their brand," she says, "And they are not spending tens of thousands or getting buried in a time-consuming production schedule to do so. These opportunities have a short life span, so being quick to leverage them is crucial."

Your Marketing Inspiration: Paid search campaigns that build on the interest in a current event can be a great way to increase your profile—and your profits.

More Inspiration:
Peter Kim: 100,000,000
Steve Woodruff: Do You Pass the T-shirt Test?
CK: Stop Putting Obama in a Box (New Markets, New Mindsets)

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