Since sitting in on Mark Hughes' "Buzz University" session, and thinking about how to generate buzz in an environment with decreasing dollars for traditional marketing, there are some great real life examples we're seeing every day.
Alaska Airlines has painted one of its 737s with a giant king salmon. It's a co-promotion with the state's seafood industry. Notably, the $500,000 it cost to paint the plane ("Salmon-Thirty-Salmon") was picked up by the federal government as part of a grant (read "pork") that Senator Ted Stevens was able to facilitate. In a way, that's part of the buzz – there's controversy, outrageousness, and humor in play, all of which contribute to generating talk.
And is it working? The big news channels covered it extensively. As Katrina winds down, and bird flu starts revving up, this story fills the void. It's fascinating to watch the anchors debate Alaska Airlines' reasons for doing this, the efficacy of the government paying to paint it, etc. No doubt about it – this is a great buzz event for Alaska Airlines, and much less expensive than producing TV spots depicting happy passengers or dedicated flight attendants.