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Mystery Machine

Tips on launching your own teaser campaign.

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This story appears in the April 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

What would Elmo do? That question had media speculating and customers clamoring for the newest version of the fuzzy red Sesame Street character, whose holiday 2006 launch was a big secret. Maker Mattel kept mum until the doll's release in September. Once the beans were spilled, TMX Elmo became one of the year's hottest items, topping the holiday wish lists of boys and coming in fourth among girls, creating long lines at retailers who carried the doll.

"[Stealth] marketing can get customers excited about something new by building expectations," says Sheree Clark, partner at Sayles Graphic Design, a Des Moines, Iowa, advertising firm that has launched teaser campaigns. To maximize impact, she says:

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