March 4, 2013 § Leave a comment
If you had asked me a few months ago whether I thought that my past time of hunting for freebies was more beneficial for myself or the companies I was interacting with, I would have told you that it was ultimately better for me than them. “Sure- they have my address, but I am a student who is constantly moving around, so they’ll never actually be able to do anything with it within the next year” I would have argued, completely forgetting the psychology of the freebie. In other words, as I gave away my school address, sending the newsletters to my spam email account (the advertising black hole of no-return), I all but neglected the psychological impact that receiving just a small gift from a company for free can mean in the long term.
Samples are smarter than you think. First of all, free sampling is as old as the kraken, originating from the golden age of direct mail marketing. If a company had the resources, they could pick ad space from any printed publication (especially those written for children. I have a number of my parent’s old comic books with a few bonus ads scattered about them. These were probably considered a jackpot for companies at the time) and print up a mail-in slip for a free sample of well, just about anything that could be sampled. For the cost of postage, you too could have a sample of [insert 50’s brand name].
With the advent of the internet, the term “free” became associated with “most likely full of malware and will steal your money and children. Click now!” Companies bent on taking your money in newer, more technologically advanced ways had a field day. I recall a friend telling me about what happened when her father was exposed to the internet for the first time as a young man and saw an ad to enter to win $100. Most likely assuming that it was of the same truthfulness of print mail-ins he was aware of, he sent his information. Within the week, the company had emptied $200 out of his bank account and mailed him a check for $100.
Flashing forward through the scam buttons of the 90’s most of us who were alive then are all too familiar with (“Congrats! You are visitor #3453. Click here to claim your prize!” for the record, these were so prevalent in their time that they were even mentioned in pop culture- namely the show “Daria”), today legitimate companies have almost caught up to their scammy predecessors. Facebook and Google are now flooded with brands ever so eager to send a sample your way, today!
Lacking purchasing power or money in general, I decided to find out which companies were legitimate, hoping to save myself a few dollars and the emotional trauma omnipresent when going to buy necessities as a broke college student (seriously, even the clearance items are beyond my means sometimes). Setting up an RSS fees of trustworthy “free things and samples” sites, I got down to ordering as many samples as possible to build up a nice stockade of freebies.
I may have given these brands my temporary address and my spam email accounts, but I managed to neglect one thing; human psychology. See, there is a phenomena in psychology- the more you see something or someone, the more inclined you will be to buy something or get to know somebody. All of these little samples everywhere might have been taking up small spaces in my dorm room, but they took up massive spaces in my sense of preferred brands. Often, subconsciously.
For example, a few months ago, I got a free pair of earrings from a site known for high quality products and bargain-bin prices. When they arrived, my first thought was- “oh, these are nice. Too bad the company wasted their money on me- I’ll never buy from them, anyways!’ Oh boy, was I wrong. Along came Christmas time, and this company got its initial investment back- eightfold. Earrings forgotten, when I thought about place to get inexpensive things, the place that gave me free earrings came to mind- lo and behold, they had the low prices that Amazon didn’t on the gifts I wanted to give. This is called having your brand planted in the mind of the consumer.
So hoarde as many freebies as you want- but remember, a company isn’t just getting your email, a space in your apartment, or your mailing address when you order a sample- they are buying a way into your constant, subconscious consideration.
it’s freaky, alright- but mutually beneficial, and I won’t be stopping my freebie hunts anytime soon! The lure of free is just too much to handle.
September 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
You know that little blue “s” symbol that advertisers have started dropping on the corners of their advertisements? Expect to start seeing more of them, starting now.
While I am sure most of you have heard of Shazam, the social music-tagging software, the program is now branching out into a whole new universe; television.
I remember the first time I saw a Shazam button on an ad: Progressive. Being the front-of-the-curve as usual, the brand promoted their adver-game Rocket Cat Adventures (meow) by encouraging us to scan the symbol to play along. While promotig some of their own agenda, of course.
Oh- and don’t forget the Olympics! The perfect testing ground of their expansion, Shazam promoted themselves as a secondary source of content.
“How revolutionary! A new way to distract myself WHILE I am being distracted by TV!” while I won’t deny that we are already distracted to the brink by multiple sources, often at once, the role of this “distraction” is evolving.
While today we may distract ourselves with Plants vs. Zombies while watching Dr.Phil (“that’s good quality television!” in the words of Justin Timberlake), tomorrow we will not only be watching tv, but interacting with it.
“Now how is that ever going to happen?” you may ask
One word: Shazam. Not only can you watch a progressive commercial, but now you can play the cat in the commercial, allowing the brand to position itself while providing you with an active means of watching. Now that’s smart.
Now, how about an app that cleans my house while I watch?
August 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
Okay, fine, I’ll admit it. I don’t care about the Olympics.
Call me strange, but really, I’d much rather watch me some nice Chef Ramsey shows than watch Mitt Romney’s horse do ballet and runners run in circles.
I am in no way denying that these athletes incredibly talented- I wish I could spin in circles while on parallel bars, too. It’s just that the Olympics, well, are boring to me.
So what’s the life of a non-olympics watcher like during the Olympics? Well in the everyday sense, it’s not much different than usual; it’s like almost every other day except when:
1.People ask “did you see that girl last night that did XYZ?”: No, I didn’t, nor do I care much, but thank you for asking! How about we avoid the awkward topic of how little I know about sports and you tell me all about it?
2. Commercials come on featuring all-star Olympians and I have no idea who they are: Usually, somebody in the room follows up by adding “oh wow was that so and so on that ad?” Yeah, I wouldn’t know. Best answer- “hmm I missed it. It could have been!”
3. Advertisers absolutely give up advertising on other channels to put all of the “good” commercials on with the Olympics: As an open marketing dork to whom the ads of the superbowl are more important than the superbowl itself, this is pretty rough. Between uninspiring ad re-runs galore and just uninspiring content outside of the Olympics, my heart is breaking a bit.
4. People ask if you watch the Olympics and you honestly admit you don’t: the conversation usually turns to something like “oh my god do you live under a rock? Then what do you watch?!”
5. There is nothing on TV to watch… well less than usual: How about some re-runs of Hell’s Kitchen for the next few weeks? No? Tough luck! Because that’s ALL that’s ever on.
So while you all watch the olympics, I will proudly express my place as the minority who lives “under a rock” and not watch
Mind you it’s a very nice rock. And it’s well stocked with stuff. Like marketing books and Cheetos.
August 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
“Seriously- she won’t stop talking about stupid One direction. Our family was on vacation and literally the only thing she ever talked about the whole time was One Direction!”
According to recent statistics, every one in three girls under the age of 15 is infected with something called the “One Direction Infection” It includes owning at least three posters of the band, talking about the hotness of Harry, and singing “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” until it makes their siblings scream.
Alright, so maybe I made up that statistic (which I did) but it’s here- the latest tween fad, and many of us who have graduated middle school are older are covering our ears for dear life.
Well, you (rather, your sister) can thank ingenious marketing for the spread of the, ahem, one hit wonder.
Ascending to fame from the “American Idol” spin-off show “the X Factor”, preteens ecstatically watched as the members rose to fame, after which they created a band which makes those of us with younger sisters shudder- One Direction. Eep!
If you are one of these unfortunate souls, you are probably asking “but why?” You see nothing spectacular about the band (really, I don’t) and would rather they went the way of the Jonas Brothers.
it’s because of the way they’ve ascended band status- to brand status, and all of their memorabilia is coming to a store near you.
For heaven’s sake, they’re even selling tee shirts with the pictures of the band members on shirts at Delias that say “I love British boys!”
but there’s more to this obsession. Here’s why:
1. British men, well, have an appeal; especially when they’re serenading you about how beautiful you (their audience) are- Think of the Beatles mixed with Lady Gaga and plus some cheese-ball lyrics with a catchy beat and you’ve got One Direction. That being said, these children, growing up with all of these factors as a part of American pre-teen culture, have been baited from birth.
2. It makes them feel good about themselves- listen to the song, and you can tell that the song is addressing what the band thinks is the most beautiful type of girl; one that doesn’t know she’s beautiful. Aww, how sweet, right? Wrong. While it might be a lovely song to teach young girls with an ego that a man won’t want them if they’re full of themselves, look what it does to pre-teen girls who already think a boy would never be in love with them, ever. Keep it up, I like your lack of confidence, poor you who needs a boyfriend!
3. Most pre-teen girls have no dating confidence anyways- uh oh, I think we might have a bit of a predicament here. These girls can’t get boys and want them. So what now?
This, the obsession over the band which drives many of the rest of us AWOL. These groups and their marketers know what these girls want- and they give it to their audience at the cost of the rest of us with currently functional eardrums.
That being said, One Direction absolutely has talent- but the fame level that their brand has made them achieve is much more than most of us will give them credit for.
But that’s what makes them beautiful, Right?! (for your little sister)