Marketing 2004 Hot Spots

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Madison Avenue may be facing a so-so economy and the onslaught of ad-deleting digital video recorders, but don't count out its impact. The smart sell is an essential ingredient of any pop-cultural phenomenon. A look back at the marketing triumphs of 2004.

Firing Offense
Two seasons of The Apprentice and several endorsement deals (even a fragrance!) cemented the Donald's status as primo financier — even after his casino company went bankrupt last month.

Cool Co-Branding
The world's biggest band and everyone's favorite MP3 player teamed up for a Technicolor promotion hyping U2's special-edition iPod and new album. Sales? They're high enough to induce Vertigo.

Slummin' Style
Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld followed fellow designer Isaac Mizrahi down-market and struck gold. His H&M line boosted sales at the trendy mass clothier.

Call New! All Desperate!
ABC's prime-time comeback can be traced to the summer — with those sharp, suspenseful, endlessly repeated promos for Lost, left, and Desperate Housewives. And has network TV ever come up with two better titles?

Guerrilla Tactics
A best-selling book, TV ads, Op-Ed columns and guest slots on the news programs — the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth dominated the election dialogue, even though their attacks on John Kerry's war record were widely debunked. The Dems never knew what hit them.

Color-Blind Casting
With little fanfare, interracial couples were everywhere — in ads for Heineken, below, Harley-Davidson and BMW, as well as in Verizon's new American family: white dad, Hispanic mom and a bunch of biracial kids.