There have been some major marketing initiatives recently using traditional offline advertising to drive traffic to a website, portal, or search engine. Ask.com has unveiled some new TV spots to get people to try their new technology. This past Sunday, as blogged by Rand and Barry, Yahoo and CBS News program 60 Minutes introduced a new partnership. What seemed to kick the year off, however, was Pontiac's clever use of the verb "google" to ask people to "google Pontiac" in its TV spots. In a search engine marketing stroke of brilliance (my opinion), Mazda purchased the keyword Pontiac, which led to a debate over the use of trademarked terms that has been covered here and elsewhere.
Bill Tancer from Hitwise pointed out at SES NYC 2006:
Did Mazda benefit from the Pontiac ad? Pontiac.com received 66.8% of the traffic from the term, and the second most visited site (3.4% of traffic) for the Pontiac search term was Mazda.
Search Engine Watch Forums Editor Elisabeth Osmeloski stared a good follow up thread to the Pontiac story the other day. She describes reading a recent article about the story in Adweek Magazine, and wonders if Pontiac paid Google to use their name as a verb (and the screenshot showing Pontiac typed into the Google search bar), and reminds us that Google was for a while very protective of its name, forbidding people to use it as a verb in the media. Danny Sullivan reports that Google swears they didn't get paid for the use, and quotes them as being eager to participate.
Not many more answers in this thread yet, but it should lead to an interesting discussion about Google's recent "kindler/gentler" attitude towards the use of its brand as a verb. Read at Search Engine Watch Forums.