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So while businesses, in general, are experiencing an all-together difficult time in this economic downturn, I thought I’d highlight at least one positive thing I believe is coming out of the recession – excellent marketing!

This recession has prompted a survival of the fittest atmosphere with cut-throat competition in both small, local businesses and large, national businesses. The business with the greatest product partnered with brilliant marketing wins the customers, the profit and the publicity.

I’ll take you down the list of a couple of my favorite national marketing campaigns –

iPhone 4 – No kidding, the first commercial I saw for the iPhone 4 made me sob. And though it’s not difficult to make me cry, I was amazed at the amount of thought, creativity and emotion Apple managed packed into 20 seconds. From the first commercial with the soldier watching his wife’s first ultrasound via video chat, to the more recent one of a dad telling his daughter how beautiful she still looks with braces, Apple has undoubtedly outdone themselves by cashing in on the value of family, relationships and face-time – something so precious in this technological age.

Old Spice – If you have yet to see this viral sensation you are missing out. Let’s face it, there is extensive competition in the area of men’s hygiene products, but Old Spice is likely to dominate with this campaign. The message is simple, funny and attractive to BOTH genders – the men who will buy their product and their women who want them to resemble the sexy man in the commercial.

Toyota Sienna – I, in fact, think I have told everyone I know about this ad campaign. Both through the Internet and the television, Toyota is coming back from their safety debacle with humor and pizzazz. This campaign centers around the Sienna family with the parents emulating a typical geeky off-beat character. And while the characters aren’t all-together unique, I think the characters partnered with the mini-van offer a relatable scenario of the struggle to be cool while driving a soccer mom vehicle.

These campaigns are, in my opinion, products of intellect and creativity. Unfortunately, when times are tough, marketing and advertising are the first things to go – especially for the small business. Both large and small businesses have major brand recognition to uphold, and with little to no marketing resources, it can certainly be a challenge. Even a small business in Omaha, Neb., can create a buzz about their service with a bit of savvy spending in the marketing department AND using cost-effective social media to make their message viral – like Old Spice.

This is a time, as I said early, where the strong will survive – or, rather, those who use their marketing dollars most effectively will thrive.

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