Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What part of "free" don't you understand?

Forgive me for being too lazy to go find the posts/comments and link to them, but since BlogHer there have been some rumblings of discontent over the giveaways we attendees received. These included a bib (from Minti) and a magnetic, dry-erase calendar festooned with cartoon characters (from PBS Parents). To those who were annoyed by these mommyblogger centric items, I have to say: Why on earth do you care? It's a freebie. If you don't like it, throw it away, give it to a friend, or donate it to a thrift shop or homeless shelter. Or I'll trade you the bib for the 30 packs of sugar substitute, since I don't drink coffee, or the condoms, since I don't...need those.

If it weren't for these sponsors, the conference would have been prohibitively expensive. I think$300 is a bargain for a 2-day event including several meals--fine, so the "meals" were crappy, but they provided a way to soak up some of the alcohol. Which, thanks to the winery sponsor, was also mostly free.

Maybe I'm having trouble with this because I've been in a goodie-laden bubble for too long. When I worked as a magazine editor, I lived amid a smorgasbord of swag. If I needed shampoo, nail polish, or eye cream, I could just wander over to the beauty editor and ask her what she had lying around (what didn't she have would have been a better question). I gave one of my best friends a kick-ass baby shower gift--a cool diaper bag stuffed to the gills with books, toys, and other goodies--made up completely of free stuff from around the office. Once I went on a trip to Alaska to test-drive a car and came home with a parka and a fishing rod (but alas, no car).

Even after I left that business (not without shedding a few tears), I didn't leave the freebies entirely behind. Now they come courtesy of my husband, who works in advertising. As a media planner, he's forever being wooed by magazines, websites and TV networks who want him to advertise with them. So every pen, pencil, beach towel, tote bag, mouse pad, and baseball cap in this house bears the name of some media outlet. That means the last time my dad came to visit, he ended up using a bath towel embroidered "Mirabella" (a defunct women's fashion magazine). A couple of years ago, we hauled two duffel bags' worth of stuff to my parents' house for Thanksgiving and held a Yankee swap with it. Everyone walked off happy. The only challenge now comes when I socialize with Jeff's co-workers. We run the risk of showing up with the same cute bag or picnic dishes, recently received from the Oh! Network or Reader's Digest.

But beggars can't be choosers, right?


Mayberry moment #2: I went to city hall today to sign Jo up for a dance class through the parks and rec department. The street outside is one of the few that has parking meters. I plucked a quarter out of the change cup in the car... only to discover that the meter didn't even take quarters. The cost for 30 minutes of parking was five cents.


mothergoosemouse said...

Hear HEAR.

I have nothing to add, except that I wish all attendees would read what you, Elizabeth (Table4Five), and Jennster have written on this topic.

jennster said...

5 cents?!?! FIVE?!?! LOL
i love this post. love it! now send me free shit i don't need!

Her Bad Mother said...


YES. Snarking on free stuff is just. dumb.

Well said.

roo said...

I love getting free stuff. And maybe that bib will come in handy the next time I'm eating lobster.

Lady M said...

Whee, free stuff! Mostly I think it's fun to see what audience the advertiser/sponsors think they are reaching.

FIVE cents? That's awesome. A while back when I was working in downtown San Francisco and accustomed to paying a dollar for 15 minutes of parking, we went to visit my sister in San Luis Obispo. Just like you said, we dug around for change, thinking we didn't have enough - and then we discovered a quarter paid for two hours.

Chase said...

Amen, sistah! I'm not going to use 3/4 of the stuff in my swag bag, but, um, WE GOT JUMP DRIVES! That alone was worth the swag. Yay!

When we first sat down at our table, a bunch of us were swapping things. It worked out great! :)

Binkytown said...

Wow. Free baseball caps and nickel parking meters? You must be loaded!

Jenny said...

5 cents. Seriously?

Do they even make nickels anymore?

TB said...

Damn, I wrote a long comment and Blogger ate it.

The gist was that I agree with you. Having worked in marketing for the last 8 years, free stuff comes my way all the time. Mostly it's crap, but every now and then you get something good. We have more picnic sets, coolers, thermoses and carrying bags than we know what to do with.
I left a lot of the free BlogHer stuff in the hotel room because I just couldnt use it but why complain about it?

Also the parking thing is awesome isn't it? We haven't had to pay once since moving to Florida. I have all this extra change now.

Christina said...

I couldn't agree more. I felt the same way, but never got up the courage to write a post and tell people that if they didn't like it, don't take it home with you. It's FREE, after all, and I'm sure the housekeeping folks wouldn't mind clearing our room of the excess stuff.

movin'mom said...

oooh something to get excited about
nickle meters!!!! :)
My hubby will be so excited.

movin'mom said...

oooh this is something to get excited about
nickle meters!!!! :) Needless to say it is much more here.
My hubby will be so excited.

Izzy said...

I would have to agree with you on all points. What's the big deal? Did I go running and screaming from the room when I got a wine cork for wine that I rarely,if ever, drink? Geez...

Elizabeth said...

Excellent post! I also hope the housekeeper for my room took the condom and holder I left behind.

I would've never guessed that there were parking meters that take nickels. I've been pretty happy that a whole day of parking at the hospital where my Dad is only costs $2.00.