Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Free Hugs, Free Products, Freeconomics

Michelle Miller wrote an excellent post offering up a commercial angel on the Free Hugs YouTube video.

If you are unfamiliar with the premise of Free Hugs, Juan Mann holds a sign up with the words "Free Hugs" as he stands on a corner of a busy intersection in Sydney. What was he after? Direct from his site in his own words, Juan's "sole mission was to reach out and hug a stranger to brighten up their live," passing good vibes onward.

As the story unfolds, you see people passing by without looking, a few hugs here and there, then someone breaks the ice and hugs Juan, others join in, some passerbys laughing and joining in with hugging strangers, police ban Juan and his Free Hugs sign, Juan collects 10,000 signatures on his petition and the ban is overruled, and on the video goes with more hugs.

Juan's Free Hug campaign started in 2004 and he's been in Sydney at that same corner every Thursday since giving away hugs. In and of itself the Free Hugs campaign is an excellent story of people's positive interactions with each other, letting your guard down and being rewarded for that measure. It's "feel good" at its authentic finest.

Michelle offers up a commercial approach to the Free Hug campaign. The idea of giving away your product for free. She parallels the Free Hug Video by stating, "If you believe strongly enough in your product or service, give it away for free. In the beginning, no one will believe you. Stick with it long enough, experience breakthrough, and you'll have more business than you know what to do with. And you'll have a band of merry men (and women) who will be your brand evangelists."

With Chris Anderson's recent WIRED article, his book titled FREE and the term freeconomics, free is touted as a major ingredient of a technology company's success. Also, with the two way interaction companies can partake in with their customers online using the robust (free) social media applications we all have at our finger tips, free is a consumer expectation. If you want me to be a brand zealot, what are you going to give me to make it worth my investment, my time, my affinity?

For more details on the Free Hugs Campaign, see wikipedia.
For more information on Michelle, check out her blog.

1 comment:

markinkc said...

This video is one of my all-time faves. Thanks for reminding me of it.