OK, so certainly there are plenty of product-centric advertisers out there. Just look at any fast-food commercial, which showcases a sandwich or wrap that looks far more delicious than anything that will end up in your drive-thru. But the question I ask has resulted from the new wave of marketing that is integrating both off and online content. Essentially, instead of (just) hawking products, brands are starting relevant conversations with their consumer. Here are two examples from brands:

1. U by Kotex

This new marketing campaign has taken on Generation Know, which aims to teach teenage (and older) women about their bodies–myth-busting ancient ideas about periods and body image. The effort behind Generation Know seems to be quite product-neutral (barely a Kotex in sight!), but instead, encourages women to get online and start talking about the myths they have been subjected to growing up. Kotex has enlisted the help of various young women who are all active on blogs, forums and social media, which signifies its emphasis on the new generation.

Why it works: It effectively associates the brand with education and liberation for women of all ages.

2. Huggies

Huggies has a new campaign in which they introduced huggies.com/answers, a forum for parents who need answers to basic questions like “how accurate are ultrasounds”? These answers are more about what consumers need to know about pregnancy and rearing children than about diapers themselves.

Why it works: It’s a great example of how brands are working to emphasize conversation, that they hope will convert to brand loyalty, instead of promoting specific products.

While it’s nothing new to align your brand with a charity or movement (look at NFL’s Play 60 campaign), this is a bit different in that in encourages consumers to get online and discuss these issues without the promise that they will then purchase your product because of your brand’s involvement. Essentially, this is what creating a social media community is about–the opportunity to talk to consumers, find out what they want, what they need and how to better improve your company and product. What is your brand doing for consumers (besides asking them to take photos with your product and publish them to Facebook)? How can you go beyond the status quo to start conversation-centric campaigns?