Posted by: nickgerlich | April 18, 2008

F-R-E-E That Spells Free

I love pop culture. While it certainly is not high brow or sophisticated, it tells a lot about what is going on in the minds of the Average Joe. This is where the masses reside, not in the halls of the symphony or opera or the cloisters of the golf club-swinging elite. Nope, it’s right down here on our street.

And right now one of the hottest things going around is an ad campaign that I think may have staying power almost as strong as some TV shows from the past. How many of you know all the words to the two jingles for FreeCreditReport.com?

I thought so.

FCR

Sure, it’s a cheesy tune, but the songs have more hooks than a tackle box. The two recent ads, Driving Car and Singing Pirates, are YouTube favorites. I have to wonder if people will remember these words in future years like everyone in my generation knows the words to the theme songs from Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch.

The only problem is that it’s not…well, free. At least not after 7 days.

You have to read the fine print, which says if you don’t notify them within a week, you will be charged $14.95 each month for their credit protection services. In other words, the pirates in the song are after you and your wallet.

There is no doubt that identity theft has us all walking on egg shells, so the offer of a free credit check sounds like a good idea, right? No one wants to be the subject of the next MasterCard advertisement.

We should have seen through the smokescreen, because an ad campaign of this size simply does not happen by giving the store away. There has to be a revenue stream, and once you fall in the river, you become part of the torrent.

While the tunes are catchy and the ads phat, it is the campaign itself that is whack.

Dr “Free Indeed?” Gerlich

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