Seinfeld on Marketing: Ransomed Value

I love the Drake Fridays. How can you not love the Fridays? The Fridays are good! In this episode of Seinfeld on Marketing, Jerry is trying to give George his Super Bowl tickets (I thought this was timely):

JERRY: You sure you don’t want the tickets?

GEORGE: No thanks.

JERRY: I can’t believe I’m having trouble getting rid of Super Bowl tickets.

GEORGE: I’m telling you, skip the Drake’s wedding, go to the game.

JERRY: I can’t, the Drake put me in the wedding party.

GEORGE: Well who schedules his wedding on Super Bowl Sunday?

JERRY: Maybe he didn’t know?

GEORGE: Let me see. (Looking at the tickets) I can’t believe you got these for free. Row F?!

JERRY: Row F, in front of the Gs, hobnobbing with the Ds and Es.

GEORGE: How about Kramer or Elaine, they don’t want them?

JERRY: I asked. Elaine laughed at me, Kramer’s only interested in Canadian football.

GEORGE: Wish I could help you.

JERRY: Come on, take them. You could take Bonnie.

GEORGE: You paying my hotel and airfare to Miami?

JERRY: What do you think?

GEORGE: So in order to use these, I gotta spend like fifteen hundred bucks. This is a bill for fifteen hundred dollars.

Too bad Ebay was not around at this time; Jerry could have made a killing! A killing, Jerry!

It may go without saying, but I will anyway: value is in the eye of the beholder. George doesn’t see the Super Bowl tickets as a chance for a once-in-a-lifetime experience; he only sees the additional money that it will cost him. This is what I call “Ransomed Value” or value that is being held for ransom. In Latin, “ransom” comes from the word redemptio which means “buying back.”

The sad thing is, Ransomed Value happens all the time in business. After a bad restaurant experience, a restaurant owner may give you a 20% discount off your next meal. But this is really just a bill for 80% of something that you planned on paying 0% for (if the experience was really bad, that is).

In the case above, if the restaurant owner offers a 20% discount towards the next meal, then she is really trying to hold the customer’s satisfaction for ransom but is willing to negotiate the release of said satisfaction at a cost of 80 cents on the dollar. Instead, the restaurant owner should release the customer’s satisfaction (it really was never hers in the first place) and give the customer a free dessert right away or comp the entire current meal.

Ransomed Value can also be seen in gift cards, airline bonus miles with many blackout dates, lengthy customer contracts or unrealistic company goals. Whenever you try to hold for ransom someone’s loyalty, permission, time or anything else of value and try to negotiate the release with some unrealistic demands, you’ll lose the battle every time.

Happy Friday!

This post is part of a weekly series, Seinfeld on Marketing.

4 Responses

  1. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Peter Quinn

  2. This episode was just on last night in local market, and I couldn’t help but stop by and tell you how great your friday posts are.

  3. […] series which runs on Fridays. Two Fridays ago, just before the Super Bowl, Übereye brought up an excellent Seinfeld moment when Jerry tries to give away Super Bowl tickets to George. Read the entire dialogue on Übereye […]

  4. Michael,

    Thanks for stopping by and the mention on your blog. I think that same episode ran here in Utah last night as well. You know, I have all the episodes on DVD but I tend to watch Seinfeld more from my DVR – go figure. I guess the fact that it is on 6 times a day helps.

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