ONE OF THE MOST effective kinds of advertising is the free sample, advertising that functions as a taste of what you’ll enjoy once you have made a purchase.

The original form of this was the out-and-out free sample, like the cheese wedges en brochette served up on a foil-covered tray by a cordial supermarket hostess, or the one- wash box of laundry detergent that arrives in your mailbox. More recently we have seen the development of the teaser sample, such as the perfumed ad pages in magazines, which act as a sample while deterring actual use. Not only are magazine perfume inserts a powerful force in our culture—hence the phrase, “You smell like a magazine”—but they are cost-effective to the perfume manufacturers, eliminating the sort of free-sample abuse that threatens the profitability of our cosmetics industry. (More than 20 percent of all cosmetics made are given away as free samples.)

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