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Honda busts into holiday marketing with Facebook NaughtyorNice app

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The holiday season makes every marketer see dollar signs, but breaking through the clutter of competitors' marketing messages isn't easy. Luckily, the holiday season also offers a little more flexibility in terms of creative boundaries. People are feeling jolly, and in general, the holiday marketing and advertising reflects this sentiment with feel-good themes, such as Coca-Cola's smiling polar bears.

Automaker Honda revealed its own holiday-fueled social media marketing ploy with the release of the NaughtyorNice Facebook app on December 8 (h/t Mashable). Users must visit the Honda corporate Facebook fan page to deploy the app, which then scrolls through your 2010 status posts, giving them a "naughty" or "nice" rating. It also tallies your number of "Likes" and invitation acceptances to determine whether you have "been a good Facebook boy or girl this year."

"Mmm, sweet savory data," the Honda app says as it crunches my stats. Ultimately, I was deemed "nice," though a bit "scroogey" on the invite acceptances.

The app gives a warning that it will pull a considerable amount of your personal data (as many third-party Facebook apps do) before activating, including your demographic information, friend lists and status updates. No doubt some of that data is needed for the app to function, but it did make me hesitate for a moment. This hesitation factor could impact whether the app takes off virally or not.

With the advent of social media, marketers such as Honda are smartly experiemented with new versions of the feel-good, slightly kitschy holiday themes. Office Max's Elf Yourself is an example of where this has worked really well, and Paypal's previous "Regift the Fruitcake" campaign raised thousands for nonprofits over the holidays, while also demonstrating the effectiveness of its payment services. That last point is probably the key for marketers looking to experiment over the holidays. Can you tie the kitsch back to your services in some subtle way, so that the marketing is fun but still true to the brand?

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