A thermal is a rising column of hot air, that birds use to get higher up in the sky, harnessing nature's processes to get to their destination.
In today's information overload environment, I argue that leveraging hot trends/ activities/ events (societal "thermals") is critical to getting noticed and remembered.
An interesting example- the movie version of "Sex and the City" is being launched this week. Best-buy's electronic repair division- Geek squad, has identified that many men (brothers, boyfriends, office colleagues) are going to be "skewered" into seeing the film despite not being too interested.
So the geeks of Geek Squad have come up with this movie-theatre promotion, running in select movie theatres, to hand out "creative excuses" to get them out of this movie ( also handing out alongside- coupons entitling you to discounts on best-buy games/ gadgets/ etc that go along with that profile)
Interesting- gets noticed, and leverages a "big event" in a very interesting kind of way- our way to mimic how nature's thermals are leveraged.