In an ad campaign touting three 99-cent sandwiches, fast-food chain Wendy's -- touting the deal as "3conomics" -- tried an advertising technique Hall said he's seeing again and again: trying to use the poor economy in advertising as a way to relate to customers.
In the Wendy's ad, three guys are sitting around a lunch table, all with Wendy's sandwiches in front of them. When one begins to explain to the other two the "basic principles of 3conomics," the others ask him how he knows so much about the deals.
"I used to work on Wall Street," he says.
"They are of course mentioning the economy because people understand it," said Hall. "They're not trying to make fun of it, but they're showing that everyone is affected by the economy and if they're not they know someone who is."
Broadcasters trying to garner ad dollars are even turning to their talent to promote products as a way to reach those viewers who normally tune out during regular commercial breaks.
ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" often features "live commercials" during which characters from the show appear in ads for a product.
In the clip shown here, Kimmel's real-life Uncle Frank Potenza and the show's security guard Guillermo Rodriguez talk about how "sporty" and "luxurious" the Pontiac Solstice GXP is as they sit inside a bright-yellow Solstice.
"This sort of thing is awkward," said Hall. "It reeks of desperation in that it's endless proliferation of advertising because there's so much out there marketers are forced to do more."
"Everyone is looking for a new method that will cut through the clutter," he said.
Griner said that live ads are just "another gimmick aimed at blurring the line between marketing and entertainment."
"Or at least aimed at slipping past the fast-forward button on your DVR."
Long before its King mascot went "crazy," Burger King was turning heads with its "Whopper Sacrifice" campaign.
Burger King developed an application on the popular social networking site Facebook offering customers a coupon for a free Whopper if they de-friended 10 of their contacts.
The application has since been removed from Facebook because of privacy concerns, but Griner said the Burger King experiment drove home an important economic lesson. Penny-pinching customers were able to earn free food and the company did not break the bank with the campaign.
"This is somewhat of a economical message that you don't have to spend millions and millions on one really nice ad when you can create a lot of buzz by creating something that is smart and carries itself," he said.
This campaign from Hyundai campaign would have once been unimaginable: Buy a car and enjoy it… until you lose your job. Then the dealership will take it back.
"This is classic auto manufacturer desperation," said Hall. "This is unprecedented. We're seeing zero percent financing and huge discounts."
Griner said that while it's certainly a dramatic gesture, Hyundai is smart to address a real and noticeable public trend.
"If one thing is clear it's that everyone is seeing job loss and Hyundai tied their campaign to that in a way that wasn't predatory or disgusting and is actually kind of nice," he said.
"There's something charming about this approach."