What Are You Willing to Give Back in Return for Something Free?
An on the power of “free.”
It is often a common sight in basketball games to see free hot dogs or rolled up tshirts catapulted into the crowds for eager fans to grab on to, often at the risk of falling or getting hurt. Some squads use air cannons to send the goodies toward fans willing to risk life and limb for a cheap polyester piece of clothing.
It’s understandable for the team management to indulge in such tactics to keep fans engaged and coming back for more. From the fans’ perspective, the behavior is mystifying. Why do spectators across the world fall over each other and risk physical harm for an inexpensive prize?
Scarcity adds to the appeal. There isn’t a tshirt for everyone, so getting hold of one feels special. Much like a limited-time offer in marketing. It wouldn’t be as alluring if they were simply handed to them on their way out.
The real appeal is simply this: The tshirts are free.
As humans we feel compelled to reciprocate when we receive something for free. That is the mindset behind all the free goodies, offers, upgrades, perks etc. offered the world over by smart marketers.
Way back in 2007, David Babusiak of St. John, IN, attended a White Sox game at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field. Between innings, the Chevrolet Pride Team fired a tshirt into the area where he was seated. He, along with many others, made their move to grab it. In the melee, he was shoved to the ground and suffered a permanent back injury. Babusiak filed a civil suit against U.S. Cellular Field and the Pride Team, seeking more than $75,000 in damages because the defendants were “engaging in an abnormally dangerous activity, namely, shooting free T-shirts as projectiles into an unsupervised crowd of spectators, some of whom may not have been sober.” The claims between the parties were later amicably resolved.
Is your business offering something for free to consumers? Are you leveraging the power of free? If yes, do it wisely and avoid any kind of liability on yourself.
Check out for more ideas on how to make “free” work for you.