There’s no mystery as to why companies give away swag during the Oscars to people in the movie business. The possibility that a celebrity will Tweet about the product or perhaps be photographed with it more than offsets the cost of giving goods away. The same concept explains why high-profile athletes are now welcome to eat free burritos for life.
A Sports Business Daily story on the trend notes that in marketing circles, the practice of strategically giving away merchandise is known as “celebrity seeding.” Among pro athletes, the Chipotle fast-casual burrito chain is tops for freebies. Here’s how the scenario plays out:
Chipotle waits for well-known people to express an affinity for the company’s food either privately or publicly, and then sends them a card that gives them a free burrito a day. The company asks for nothing in return for the favor, but many high-profile athletes have taken to social media to sing the company’s praises after receiving one.
That’s exactly what USA soccer star Abby Wambach did last fall, Tweeting “Happiest day ever” after receiving her free-burritos-for-life card. Skateboarder Tony Hawk, the NBA’s Mario Chalmers and Drew Gooden, and pro lacrosse player Paul Rabil are among the other athletes who can flash a personalized Chipotle card in exchange for one free burrito daily until their final days.

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