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  • Diana Schneidman

Oh, the things I’ll do for a “free” gift


A full year of Jazzercise and all I got is this lousy T-shirt

I consider myself to be a case study in marketing. When I want to analyze a marketing practice, I start by getting in touch with my own experiences in being marketed to in that way.

I know that my own reactions do not constitute statistically valid marketing research. Still, I like to anoint myself as guinea pig number one.

I’d like to think that after years of employment in marketing research and marketing communications that I am smarter than the typical consumer. I’d like to believe that I am more rational.

But my own experiences show I’m just as susceptible to marketing as anyone else. And if the bribe is a T-shirt, I am hopelessly at the mercy of marketers.

Take Jazzercise.

Jazzercise is an internationally franchised exercise program consisting of aerobic and strength-building exercise choreographed to contemporary music. Approximately 99.5% of participants are women.

After a several-year hiatus following a relocation that took me away from my old Jazzercise studio, I’ve been attending steadily since November 2005.

They used to give you a T-shirt when you completed 100 classes during the course of a year. I handily passed this benchmark.

Then they raised the bar for the first-level T-shirt to 150 classes. I made it last year but it was close. Had I not challenged their count (I had attended classes in two locations and they didn’t automatically total both check-in cards), I would have fallen short.

This year I maintain meticulous records in my Franklin Planner. (I’m at 54 classes as of the end of April.) And I find myself aiming for more than three classes a week in case of future vacations, scheduling conflicts or illness.

All for a simple T-shirt.

Mind you, there’s nothing all that special about Jazzercise’s shirts. For $20 or less I could buy one of my choice from a huge selection at Target or Kohl’s.

But for some crazy reason I want that Jazzercise shirt!

Interestingly, they give makeup bags and other swag for various promotions. But these don’t tempt me at all. After all, I could buy similar stuff anywhere. Like Target or Kohl’s.

I joined Jazzercise before I knew of any clothing enticements. And I would continue with the program if there were no shirts at all.

But hey, there ARE T-shirt to be had and I want mine!

Every so often I notice that fund-raising walks and runs also give out T-shirts. I put my fingers in my ears and make loud noises to hide these temptations from my consumer brain.

My biggest fear is that I may find myself compelled to run marathons, all for a lousy shirt.

Originally posted 5-2-10

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