The 12 Days of Tag

Why support a charity when you can promote a new consumer technology, plug a rap album, and be charitable all at once? Equally enterprising in nature, that's what Microsoft, Diddy and social marketing firm Izea had in mind with Twelve Days of Tag. Over the holidays, the program encouraged consumers to download Microsoft Tag -- the software giant's mobile bar code reader -- so they could access bonus content from Diddy's latest masterpiece, "Last Train to Paris" and help decide which causes would receive donations totaling $50,000.

"It's the holiday season, you know, it's important to help out a charity," said the artist formally known as Sean Combs, Puff Daddy, Puffy, Puff, and P. Diddy. "I have teamed up with Microsoft to give something back - something back to my fans and the community."

Each day, Diddy tweeted links to Microsoft Tags that related to specific charitable causes. Those with the most "scans" at the end of each day received upwards of $10,000 each. Charities vying for donations included Doctors Without Borders, United Way and Greenpeace.

Hoping to get a toehold with consumers and advertisers, Microsoft Tag bills itself as a new kind of bar code technology that connects nearly any real-world consumer good to information, entertainment and interactive "experiences" via mobile devices.

For marketers, tags are free to create and use, according to Elliott Lemenager, online community manager at Microsoft. Brands can display them on posters, billboards, product packaging, Web sites, clothing and any other consumer-facing "surface" imaginable.

When consumers scan a Tag using the free Tag Reader application on their mobile phone, it can automatically opens a Web page, add a contact to their address book, display a message, dial a number or, we imagine, play a little Diddy.

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