How to sell buying less.

One of the nicest sentiments I’ve seen expressed in any, er, branded content this holiday season isn’t even a holiday ad.

It’s eBay’s new campaign, an example of which you see above. If you can’t read the headline, it says “Last year’s music player at half price still plays this year’s music at full volume.”

The urge to get and have will always be with us, but eBay’s message that gently used things can still have meaning and value is a good one, and in sync with the 2009 zeitgeist without being manipulative.

Spending $150 for last year’s model instead of $300 for this year’s doesn’t automatically mean $150 left over for charitable giving. Or debt reduction. Or savings for college. But it at least opens the door of possibility, and gets you thinking.

Not to mention, it’s a very smart, insightful way to get people to think differently about eBay, and it isn’t even the first. Goodby’s “People are good” campaign of a few years back, when people still feared internet commerce with strangers, was crazy good too.

The only off-note is the stupid endline “Come to think of it”, which has been used on everything from cigarettes to cars to food—usually by brands that are on the brink of extinction because no on thinks about them anymore.

The best endline would have been no endline. But that doesn’t take away from a singular achievement: a campaign that sells its product hard at the same time it encourages you to be a better person.

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