Marketers, Mark Burnett Jump Into Zumba Craze

Fitness Videos Rooted in Latin Music Create Bridge to Hispanic Consumers

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- If Alberto Perlman has his way, attendees at next week's Association of National Advertisers multicultural conference will start the day by gyrating to the Latin rhythm of dance workout craze Zumba, led by a certified instructor Mr. Perlman is sending before his breakout session to explain Zumba to marketers.
Zumba, which started as a Latin-flavored exercise regimen in Miami gyms, is grabbing the attention of marketers.
Zumba, which started as a Latin-flavored exercise regimen in Miami gyms, is grabbing the attention of marketers. Credit: Matias Bilbao

A few of them already get it. Kellogg Co. started a three-year "Zumbando con Kellogg's" program in 2003 that gave away Zumba fitness videos in a promotion on Special K boxes and continues this year in Mexico and Venezuela. Several others, such as Kaiser Permanente and Samy Cos., are using Zumba in grass-roots marketing efforts.

Mark Burnett's Hispanic market foray
But what will take Zumba to the next level is the equity stake Mark Burnett Productions and Estefan Enterprises took a couple of months ago in Zumba Fitness. Mark Burnett and Emilio Estefan, husband of Latin-music entrepreneur and singer Gloria Estefan, formed Estefan/Burnett Entertainment to get Burnett into the U.S. Hispanic market, starting with Zumba. Mr. Estefan is creating and producing a new set of Zumba videos that will debut in 2007 with original Latin music and a marketing campaign including TV.

Burnett will use its clout with retailers and direct-marketers to make sure Zumba has great distribution, said Roy Bank, Burnett's head of development and corporate operation.

"Down the road, hopefully you'll see Zumba featured in our TV programs, whether it's 'The Apprentice' or 'On the Lot' or 'Survivor,"' he said. "We're open to everything -- music, movies, TV, internet. Zumba is content."

Calorie-burning contest
Mexico's TV giant Televisa integrates frequent Zumba segments into its hit weekly reality show "Bailando por la Boda de mis Suenos" ("Dancing for the Wedding of My Dreams"), which Burnett executives are watching closely as an example of how Zumba can work on TV. Contestants flew to Cancun last month for a Zumba calorie-burning contest that aired on the show.

"The winner burned 1,018 calories in one hour," Mr. Perlman said. His company also is releasing a joint video with Televisa this month called "Zumba on the Mayan Riviera" that will be sold only in Mexico.

Zumba's Mr. Perlman was a failed dot-com entrepreneur when he stumbled upon Beto Perez, a charismatic Colombian former street dancer who was teaching popular Rumbacize classes at Miami gyms.

"I found Beto teaching 150-people classes with live percussion from a drummer," he said. "I thought, 'This is crazy. It has to be scaled."'

The videos and infomercials and a catchy new name followed. Zumba will have 3,000 certified instructors next year ranging from Beto himself, who still leads celebrity-filled classes at Miami's Body & Soul gym, to dancer Bronna Lipton, who teaches Zumba at a Jewish community center in New Jersey.

Grass-roots relationships
Most of Zumba's relationships with marketers so far are at a grass-roots level. Healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente, for instance, enlisted Zumba instructors to lead the warm-up at a fun run the insurance company sponsored for client companies.

"We're very impressed with Alberto and look forward to talking with them about what else we can do," said Kristin Juel, a Kaiser Permanente brand planner.

"My wife is a Zumba fanatic," said Luis Delgado, CEO of hair-care-products maker Samy Cos. "We try to hook up with them because they can draw a crowd."
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