5/5 Free Stuff

free - not restricted in things that we do or want to do, free to do as you like, free not incarcerated, not imprisoned

free - for nothing, no charge, gratis

Free is a powerful and marketers use it all the time

There is no denying that we all like free stuff, whether we need it or not.

How many business conferences have you been to and come away with pens, mugs and funny little pom-poms things with eyes, we go through all manner of strategies to get these items.  The walk up and look interested in the product read a bit of blurb, casually pick up the free pen, read a bit more blurb and then legit. The brazen can I take one of these please and of course the sneaky I will take one or two as they are free, as soon as they look the other way.

We do this several times throughout the day and end up with more pens than you could possibly store in that old free mug you acquired five years ago at a previous exhibition.

There was a study carried out in New York where they were doing tattoos for free, they asked people in the queue if they had considered having a tattoo before, 65% said no.  They were quite happy to stand in line for something that they would have to live with for the rest of their life, that they hadn't considered getting until they could have a tattoo for free.

However 'There is no such thing as a free lunch'.   Urban myth? Possibly, but don't you think that we are all just getting a bit cynical about free stuff.  How many times do you think/say 'but what's the catch?' like it or not it is hard to give stuff away without it being considered a catch.

Why? Because I think that generosity has been abused in society and we have created a defence mechanism that makes us wary of 'giving someone something for free' because it makes us/them feel good. 

What is the difference between free and a gift and do we look at them differently? I suppose it depends on the context.

Sometimes free only comes in exchange for a name, an email address or buying one and getting one for free and is it this free that has cast a shadow on the act of giving? 

Is a gift the same as free?  The scenario, a stranger walks up to you and says 

"Here I would like to give you this gift."

"A gift? "

"Yes, here take it"


"It makes me happy"

"What's the catch?"

Replay the scenario with something for free and the response would be less guarded. 

So has free stuff corrupted the gift?  What about the free gift?  

The point is it is hard to give a gift out of context.

Did we have buy one get one free in the 1960's, 70's 80's?

A free gift with your first order is not a free gift because you are giving something in exchange.  

I suppose that ideally, a gift is something that is given without the expectation of reciprocation and free might just come with a catch.


(As I write this the horror of the fire in London is just hitting the news and the generosity in not only giving materialistic items but giving emotional support, is truly heartening and the greatest gift that humans give freely.)