After Sox Win, Sofas Are Free

Others had been planning to buy all along and this promotion was a nice perk.

Bruce Chapman had been unhappy with his old living room furniture for years. He had narrowed his sofa choice down to two different styles. Then, when the Red Sox fan heard about the promotion, he went to Jordan's and bought the sofas.

"Only now I feel a little guilty that my cheering the Sox on isn't for entirely the right reasons," Chapman said.

So, how much did Jordan's spend on the prize insurance?

Tatelman wouldn't say, but the cost was in the millions.

Mark Gilmartin is president of Odds on Promotions, a Reno, Nev., company that underwrites such insurance policies. Though Gilmartin didn't do a policy for Jordan's, the furniture store did seek a quote from him.

Gilmartin would have insured the contest for 30 percent of the value of all the furniture given away. Using the conservative $15 million prize tally, that means the insurance would have cost Jordan's $4.5 million.

Whatever the cost, Tatelman said it was worth it. Not only did he get customers in the store, but they bought furniture. And a lot of what they purchased is not covered by the promotion.

If somebody bought a couch and a love seat, only the couch would be free. If they bought a dining room table, chairs, and maybe some china to go with it, only the table would be free.

"The Red Sox winning a world championship, and free furniture — I mean, it doesn't get any better," Tatelman said.

A Free Car for a Hole in One

Gilmartin's company insures all sorts of promotions like this. These conditional rebates — where customers get back the money spent on purchases — could be pegged to anything. For instance, if a local sports team beats a rival, all those pickup trucks purchased last week at a local dealership, could end up being free.

Another popular promotion might involve a rebate if six inches of snow happens to fall on Christmas Day.

Such sales gimmicks "are designed to increase traffic and ultimately increase sales," Gilmartin said. "It's an excellent sales promotion, in addition to being able to show your community support and back your local team."

Besides furniture stores, these promotions often show up at car dealerships and electronics shops. Gilmartin's company just insured a promotion for a Boston-area jewelry shop that will rebate purchases if the New England Patriots go undefeated this season.

Odds on Promotions also has a sister company that insures hole-in-one giveaways — typically, a hole in a tournament where a golfer wins a free car if he or she gets a hole-in-one.

Such promotions also appeal to Americans' enjoyment of gambling on sports.

Even Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper are getting in on the action, making a friendly wager.

If the Colorado Rockies were to have won the baseball championship, Menino would have had tosend Hickenlooper New England clam chowder from Legal Sea Foods, coffee and Boston creme doughnuts from Dunkin' Donuts, Curse Reversed ice cream bars and Boston You're My Home ice cream from Brigham's ice cream.

Now that the Red Sox won, Colorado will send over Quizno's sandwiches, Celestial Seasonings teas, Great Western tortilla chips, Epic Valley salsa and Liks Rocky Road ice cream.

The winning mayor might end up needing a larger desk chair after eating all that food.

Which brings us back to Jordan's. While this whole promotion might have been designed to sell furniture, Tatelman said it means a lot more than just some sales.

"All of a sudden, everybody is a Red Sox fan," he said. "All summer, they're watching games because the sofa they are sitting on, they can have for free if the Red Sox win the World Series."

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