Zumba, the Colombian-born dance exercise craze created by dancer and choreographer Alberto Perez, has grown from running a $2 million infomercial budget in 2001 to a current-day $50 million marketing budget that reaches 150 countries and over 14 million weekly participants worldwide.
Now the company hopes to take its brand from exercise craze to a multi-media platform through an MTV-like strategy that includes a new music video from Don Omar launched this week.
The company’s CEO Alberto Perlman says he’s determined not to let Zumba go the way of other exercise fads by executing an entertainment strategy that includes launching new artists, creating music videos, selling compilation CDs and promoting live class experiences dubbed “Fitness Concerts.”
The Don Omar track, originally released in April, drops the Zumba name several times in its lyrics and also ties into the brand’s video game on Xbox and Nintendo Wii. That game was ranked #2 in the dance and fitness space, with Xbox Kinect and Wii this summer. In 2011, Pitbull and Wyclef Jean also teamed up with Zumba to perform at an event that was so well covered by MTV it essentially became an infomercial.
The turning point for Zumba came in 2006 when Perlman’s brother, Chief Marketing Officer, Jeffrey Perlman, saw a billboard for the dance movie Rize. “Immediately, I called my brother and said ‘You’re selling the wrong thing. You’re selling fitness when you should be selling this emotion.’ I wanted to turn Zumba into a brand where people felt that kind of free and electrifying joy.”
The sky’s been the limit since then. Next on the horizon is television programming. The company has signed an agreement with a reality-show production company and Jeffrey Perlman says several concepts are in development and should be ready to shop around to networks soon.
Alberto Perlman says he’s conscious of marketing beyond English-speakers and the new music video is in Spanish. Zumba also has writers and producers in Brazil working on new songs in Portuguese.