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The Subtle Connection Between Ironing Clothes and Snow Skiing

Published: July 24, 2007

Author: David Rodnitzky


I got a new iron recently. It’s from a company called Rowenta and I think it cost about $40. Inside the box was a product registration card. It was 24 questions long. I’m not sure I could even think of 24 questions about an iron, so it caught my eye.

A few of the iron product registration questions include:

  • Do you plan to buy/lease a new vehicle in the next 12 months?
  • Are you a member of a frequent flyer program?
  • Do you own a CD-ROM drive?
  • Do you regularly participate in snow skiing? buying prerecorded videos? fashion clothing? watching sports on TV?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all about collecting demographic information about customers. But the connection between leasing a new car and buying an iron is a little far-fetched, no? I know that banks sometimes give out new toasters for signing up for a new account, but I doubt the local Ford dealer is going to bring people onto the lot by offering a free iron.

Then I noticed – at the very end of the document and in 4 point type, the disclaimer. I’ve bolded the relevant parts:

“Thanks for taking the time to fill out this questionnaire. Your answers will be used for market research studies and reports. They will also allow you to receive important mailings and special offers from a number of fine companies whose products and services relate directly to the specific interests, hobbies, and other information indicated above. Through this selective program, you will be able to obtain more information about activities in which you are involved and less about those which you are not. Please check here if, for some reason, you would prefer not to participate in this opportunity. Failure to return this card will not diminish your warranty rights.”

So, in other words, based on the information I provide, I’ll get a lot of junk mail for the categories I checked, and even some junk mail (but less of it, phew!) for the categories I didn’t check.

I love the line “if, for some reason, you would prefer not to participate in this opportunity.” That’s great marketing – if you are an idiot and you want to pass this by, click here.

And then the closer – the entire card is totally worthless! The warranty is valid whether I mail the card in or not.

I wonder how many people actually fill out this card thinking that it is somehow required to protect their $40 iron investment? And how much does Rowenta make selling their customers’ demographics? Is the revenue factored into the selling price of the iron?

My suggestion to Rowenta: create an iron that permanently steams brand messaging onto clothes – now that will really drive some extra bucks!


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