Freebie Effect

Celebrities' freebies effect the zombie-like state of American consumers product by product.

10 July 2010

A close colleague worked for an expensive watch company and complained of their common freebie practice. Give a celebrity a ridiculously expensive timepiece, make sure they wear it around the papa-paparazzi, watch the watch sales climb sky high. It’s simple actually. Sacrifice the manufacturing cost for publicity. Marketing for the price of manufacturing. That’s a hell of a lot cheaper than sponsoring the Governor’s Island Polo Match or Fashion Week. Then again, Mercedes Benz couldn’t give out cars as freely as Piaget can dish out timekeepers. Cars would draw too much attention to the classless practice. But how about for watches, handbags, jeans? And moreover, is Crest giving dentists free Whitening toothpaste for their clients any different than Piaget giving Kevin Bacon a free watch?

Both genres want people to buy their product and raise their gross margins by exploiting different human emotions. And it feels different. When companies like Johnson & Johnson, CVS Caremark and even give products, they attach the message that they care about the consumer. Providing dentist offices with special toothpaste sends a message that you care about the dental hygiene of the citizens. Luxury companies exploit insecurity. Giving celebrities free watches sends the message that they think the citizens aren’t cool enough, successful enough, smart enough, fancy enough, and so on in absence of the product. If Lady Gaga has a G-Shock, you need a G-Shock. When in reality, she probably doesn’t even know she ever wore that G-Shock.

And it works; which speaks to either the sad insecurities or zombie-like state of our nations crazed consumers who never really know what they like. In a state of constant advertising, celebrity promo and product placement, do we ever really know what we like? Is Sookie drinking a Pepsi the same thing as Sienna Miller toting a complimentary Birkan? Nope. They just come out of different columns of the budget, but the freebie effect is the same.

Emma Dinzebach

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Posted by Emma Dinzebach at 12:00 AM
Bargain Hunting , bargain news , Insights , Other People's Style , People , Shopping Trends , STYLE/BEAUTY , The City , TRENDS |

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