Starbucks is giving out a free cup of coffee, Ben & Jerry’s will offer a free scoop of ice cream, Krispy Kreme will give you a donut, Babeland is offering a free sex toy for men and women, and a plethora of local watering holes are giving away a free beer to all discerning citizens who cast their vote today. But does giving away free merchandise on Election Day really promote a business or just come off as gimmicky and corny?

I suppose it’s not as bad as having a ‘President’s Day Mattress Sale Blowout’ or a ‘Valentine’s Day Used Car Shopping Spree’, but would someone be more inclined to visit Starbucks again on a full price day after having gotten their Election Day Joe for free?

Starbucks for one has been suffering a great deal over the past five sales quarters as a result of the increasing recession and the consumer’s reluctance to splurge on high-priced specialty coffees when cheaper alternatives abound. Just check out all the recent Starbucks store closures.

However, according to Bloomberg news, current elections laws prevent individuals and organizations from offering monetary incentive (or free goods) to encourage voters to hit the polls. It could be construed as a ‘buying votes’ ploy. To get around that, Starbucks has changed their advertising to reflect the fact that both voters and non-voters alike will be given free cups of coffee this election day.

Doesn’t that kind of serve as an implicit justification for not voting? Kind of a hard pitch in these ‘Vote or Die‘ , ‘Make Your Voice Heard’, ‘Don’t Vote! (Sarcasm)‘ ad campaign world days, isn’t it?

We’ll just have to wait and see if Starbucks and other companies can piggyback these giveaways into increased revenues.

Let us know your input in the comments section. Does giving away free stuff on election day make you want to visit a business again in the future?

MSNBC: Free Sex Toys And More For Voting, Nov 3, 2008