I have to laugh when I get e-mails offering a "free lunch" in the context of some kind of product demo. It's the time-share presentation of the technology age. They try to lure you in with lunch so they can get some of your time to review their products. I don't get it.
Since when is "lunch" such a valuable resource? Well, not since I was worried about covering my rent. And back then, I wasn't exactly in a position to make a purchasing decision about any kind of software tools, if you know what I mean. At some point in our careers, our time becomes from valuable than a $9 plate of rubber chicken. So I suspect that the free lunch thing is probably targeting the wrong kind of audience (people who care about free lunch).
Every so often, I'll get a schedule request for an internal meeting where the announcement prominently highlights the fact that pizza will be served. This signals to me that the person that scheduled the meeting is worried about people showing up (which I can totally understand...I've scheduled some of those kinds of meetings before). If the meeting content is great, I'll show up anyway and the food is an extra benefit (thanks!). But I do notice in some circumstances that food is being used as the tool to get people there in the first place. It's a little different internally, but still, I find it interesting.
Of course I write all of this as I have scheduled a mixer for the marketing recruiters at Microsoft to get together next week. We are all over campus and the field so it's great to get everyone together and yeah, we'll have some beer and wine and snacks.But the highlight of the event will be the sparkling conversation. And there will be no software demos.