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How Much Do We Distrust Ads? Enough to Refuse Free Money [Video]

free_moneyLet's face it, whether you work in marketing or not, you can spot bad marketing pretty easily ... probably because we've all been interrupted by bad marketing throughout our entire lives. We've seen the all tricks of the trade, and we do our best to avoid interruption-based marketers like the plague.

And that's what makes the below video just so funny. Created by a non-marketing comedy duo, the video shows a man trying to give away free money around Boston ... and no one takes it. Even with saying things like: "Giving out money here, no reason, no catch" and "Giving out dollars, just handing them out, no reason," the man handing out money still can't get people to take it. No one was interested in grabbing a dollar, or even really acknowledging him -- all because he was interrupting their day and standing there with a clipboard (seemingly there to collect information). Instead of jumping on the opportunity, people just avoided him and kept going about their day. It really is worth two minutes to watch it yourself:

Was everyone he was asking just too rich to care? Of course not. It was because he was holding a clipboard, insinuating that people need to sign up for something to get the money. We've been taught nothing is free, so people were expecting to get asked a bunch of questions or be required to give some information about themselves to receive anything these days.

My favorite part takes place at the 1:30 mark. One of the passers-by that actually stopped and acknowledged him said, "If it was on the floor, I'd take it." And then once he puts it on the ground, she still didn't make a move to take it! She still thinks there's a catch! She wants to make her own informed decision without "help" from any outside forces that she doesn't know or trust. She's thinking: If he's just giving out money, what's his motive?

In my mind, there are three glaring marketing takeaways from this video: 

1) People are getting really good at avoiding being interrupted by marketing (or what they think is marketing, like in the case of this video).

2) People are going to make decisions based on how comfortable they feel in any situation -- especially when their personal information and money are involved.

3) We, as marketers, have to work hard to earn people's trust through our marketing efforts if we want them to be successful -- and that's not going happen if we're interrupting people to blast irrelevant marketing their way. 

We all can relate to this feeling of being interrupted. We've all experienced pop up ads, billboards, cold calls ... among other types of marketing. So make your marketing stand out from the rest by luring people in with relevant, personalized content. And of course, if all else fails, you could try this experiment again, but with twenties! ;)

Would you have taken the free money? 

Image credit: stevendepolo

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