Two Takes On Freebies: Redbox and Mars Chocolate

Redbox giveth and Redbox taketh away. 

Maybe you've seen their big red boxes outside your local grocery store, where you can rent DVD movies for just $1 (take that, Blockbuster and Comcast Pay Per View!). It's also where you can get FREE movie rentals every Monday of the week. Or should I say was ...

For quite some time now, on Monday mornings, Redbox would text message people who registered their cell phones online with a FREE Movie promotional code. The code was only good that day to save the normal $1 fee on your Monday rental. Well, yesterday, Redbox alerted their loyal customers, via the email shown above, that their FREE Movie Mondays rental promotion is ending on May 11th. But to be the good guys in this bad economy, Redbox is going to keep the promotion going through the summer, on a monthly basis (not weekly) starting on June 1st. How nice is that?

Actually, is there anything better than FREE? It's "the strongest word in the English language," according to many direct marketing professionals. And it sure makes for hard-to-resist offer copy when you can say, "FREE Trial Offer, no strings attached." 

In an About.com article, "Creating Powerful Promotional Marketing Coupons, Contests & Samples Drive Sales for Business," Darrell Zahorsky has this to say about the topic ...

"Do free samples work? Giving your product away for free may seem profit limiting but consider the case of Seth Godin. Godin released a book called 'The Idea Virus' in 2000. Unlike other authors, he did not charge for the book instead gave it away for free as an e-book. In less than 30 days over 400,000 copies were downloaded. This created a buzz about the book and even through free, people bought the hard cover; making the book #5 on the Amazon best seller list."

And Redbox isn't the only one who gets the power of free samples and is giving stuff away this summer ...

The Mars marketing team is running a FREE chocolate on Fridays promotion with their Real Chocolate Relief Act (and getting a little governmental on us with that name). They've even developed a graphic "seal" for this official business initiative. 

The Mars ad that ran in yesterday's USA Today says, "Every week through September, Mars is giving way 250,000 free* real chocolate coupons for your favorite Mars brands. Authentic chocolate made with 100% cocoa butter. Enjoy one on us today and, for more free* chocolate, visit realchocolate.com on Fridays." 

The promotion, per the ad's disclaimer, will run 5/8/09 through 9/25/09. (I'm checking the website now, and having trouble linking ... is it my browser or the Mars site?) 

A few months back, I wrote about Mars' Dove chocolatiers franchise. I'm extremely impressed with what the company is doing to move forward - in this economy, you'd think FREE samples might be a bad idea, but Mars is going gung-ho with the idea. You can read more about the Mars FREE chocolate Friday giveaways here.

And don't forget to get your freebies! (My favorite Mars brand: 3 Musketeers. Movie: the latest comedy will do!)

1 comment:

Ted Grigg said...

You are right. Free is in and pure branding is out.

I'll bet the branders at some of these companies are having a hissy fit over this "degradation of the brand."

But the economy and the need to sell trumps pretty ads and meaningless phrases.:)

Great post!


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