At the Rihanna event, White received a Nike shirt, a towel, a water bottle, and a pair of Nike shoes, and she admits that product giveaways like that sweeten the deal.

NYU senior John Cintolo, who ran three miles with the Nike reps at the first meeting of the NYU Nike Run Club, says the brand's sponsorship of the group and the Rebel Run "kind of adds legitimacy to it. I don't think Nike would sponsor something that wasn't legitimate."

Asked whether his contact with the reps will have any effect on his consumer behavior, Cintolo says, "It won't affect my purchasing decisions," before quickly adding: "It definitely won't hurt, though, that's for sure. I actually need a new pair of shoes. If I run this event, I'm going to have to buy Nikes before then."

Stephen Webster

White agrees. "Now, whenever I buy athletic gear, it's strictly Nike," she says. "I never buy anything else. They kind of bought my loyalty."

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