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Originally established for times when I needed more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing or media.

In for the long haul?

USA TODAY reports that J.C. Penney and other retailers are looking to “haul videos” to boost their back-to-school marketing. Now I’m 900 years old and don’t have kids, so I’d never heard of “hauls” — self-directed vanity videos in which a teen shows off the loot she scored at the Galleria. Last night after deadline, I tweeted the story, and almost immediately I received an “I HATE HAULS” response from a friend. And I could dig it.

Although I’m a happy, active consumer, who firmly believes in contributing to the economy, I despise conspicuous consumption — I certainly see a lot of it living in Northern Virginia. These “hauls” are certainly an extension of look-at-me consumerism, and I would be repulsed, but I’m fascinated by marketers’ race to seize on consumer-generated content to grab their piece of the $50 billion pie that is back-to-school goods.

But the marketers better act fast. From the story:

“It’s the buzz-worthy story of 2010,” says Mandi Mankvitz, social-media director at consultancy Sphere Trending. But, she says, because some retailers now pay “haulers” — providing free gift cards and travel expenses — “eventually, this will become just as mistrustful as traditional advertising.”

It’ll be interesting to see how long the “hauls” trend lasts, how much reach it really has. As JCP’s chief marketing officer Mike Boylson says in the story, “All of these haulers have followers and friends. That’s how you start the ball rolling.” I just wonder how far the ball will roll.

Author: Jacqui Barrineau

Jacqui Barrineau is a writer and editor who lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., with husband Trey, a Shetland Sheepdog and two unhelpful-but-funny cats. Her work has appeared in "So to Speak" and "Calliope," and she's a regular contributor to the flash-fiction sites Paragraph Planet and Doorknobs & Bodypaint. Once upon a time, she was the audience engagement editor at USA Today. Now she does other fun things that involve advertising, marketing and social media. The views expressed here and in other outlets are hers, not her clients'. Outside of work, she's proud to serve on the Northern Virginia Community College Marketing Advisory Committee. As a committee member, she joins industry leaders in lending their knowledge and expertise to ensure the college's Marketing curriculum is relevant and responsive to the needs of the students and the surrounding business communities.

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