Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

February 2006

Surprise Inside

Cracker Jacks prizes are alive and well in big-time marketing.

And I love it.

All I wanted were 12 cans of tennis balls at a reasonable price. What I got were 12 cans for 18 bucks and change plus tax plus two grip-enhancing wraps with little electrician-type tape bands and a DVD on the 2004 Master’s Tennis Championships in Houston. Roger Federer won. What else is new?

So ... then I got a dozen golf balls. Good brand, good price, plus a DVD featuring Gary McCord and titled “Golf for Dummies.” Thank you very much.

With my dog food, I got a little package of treats. The dogs liked them, but then they like generic treats, shoe boxes, important papers and soiled socks, too.  

What these three examples had in common was the absence of a pre-purchase awareness on my part. Maybe the packaging was marked somehow to promise (warn) of the something extra enclosed, but I don’t remember seeing anything. I didn’t find the little extras until I opened the main packages. Actually I was on the last three cans of tennis balls before I found the wrap and, later, the tennis DVD.  

Mind you, the last time I remember wanting a product because of the free premium, I was dependent on my mother to buy the “right” cereal so I could get the decoder ring (adjustable — just stick your finger in it and clamp it tight with a pair of pliers!).

The differences between then and now, besides the high-techiness, are two: 

In the old days, you knew in advance what you were going to get free, but you had to wait several weeks for the good folks in Battle Creek, Mich., or wherever to open your mailed-in request, verify your box tops and then mail it out. And I was always disappointed. The glow-in-the-dark stone wouldn’t stay in the darn ring, and I had a heck of a time washing the green stain off my finger.

Nowadays, you get instant gratification by getting something good, right now, that you didn’t even know you wanted.

I love progress!