Freebie marketing is hardly a novel concept, but it can still reap grand rewards. As a part of their 2013 ‘Start Happy’ campaign, Fruit of the Loom sent out 25,000 pairs of free underwear to LinkedIn users who changed their employment status to a new job. Those lucky so-and-so’s got not only a free pair of their choice (boxers and boxer briefs for men; bikini, boy short or high-cut for women), but also received a coupon for $5 off a multipack if they were willing to share the transaction over LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Kinda silly, kinda goofy, maybe a little embarrassing for anyone who faces the choice of sharing his/her skivvy story online. But really, who’s going to turn down free stuff AND a chance to save $5 on even more stuff?

And that’s the brilliance of this freebie marketing promotion. Not only is Fruit of the Loom invoking the Law of Reciprocity – if you offer something for free, it increases the likelihood your customers want to return the favor and purchase something – but this will net them HUGE social media rewards.

They get 25,000 people immediately posting their name and product on every social media platform, reaching all of their friends and followers with the great news of free underwear. Given the nature of the product, they’re guaranteed some funny photos that could turn this into a pretty successful meme, and since nobody wants to lose that new job, Fruit of the Loom should be safe from any malicious postings that could cause this to backfire.

The best part is that some of these winners might not be among the Fruit of the Loom faithful. That’s where the next benefit to freebie marketing comes in – letting potential customers experience the value of your product without commitment or obligation. If your product is superior, this gives customers a chance to find out for themselves and it won’t cost them a dime. However, what’s free to your customers costs you money. Make sure any freebie marketing campaign is in your budget before taking the leap.

And ensure the freebie makes sense to the market you’re trying to reach, or is tied to a message/strategy that works. Fruit of the Loom contends that starting the day with a fresh pair that’s comfortable and fits properly puts you in a good mood and can have a positive impact on the day. That ties in with their recent TV commercials, which feature their underwear giving people an extra edge in their jobs. Sure, there’s no real science to back that up, but you can’t argue with their logic.

Blending freebie marketing with a social media approach is just icing on the cake. The interactivity with those 25,000 LinkedIn users will help drive Fruit of the Loom’s online presence and will build brand recognition among the ever-increasing online retail market. Anytime you can get your audience/customers doing the marketing legwork for you is a big win.

Have a freebie marketing success story that scored big? Tell us about it!