San Francisco-based stored value card provider Zowi Corp. last month relaunched its flagship CobaltCard under the American Express brand.
Zowi’s private-label CobaltCard, which is pitched to consumers 13 to 22, has been available for about six months. But it will now get a bigger push through a partnership with New York City-based American Express, which will slide the card into its own product line and make it accepted anywhere AmEx is. Young consumers sign up online, with those under 16 required to have the application authorized by a parent (who can preprogram the card to block purchase of such goods and services as cigarettes, alcohol, and pornography).
“Young adults spend more than $140 billion a year at retail,” says Lauren Becker, Zowi’s vp-marketing. “We’re giving them their first financial tool.”
Backing the relaunch is an aggressive marketing schedule that includes offline and online ads. Major marketing programs (merchant P-O-P efforts were being rolled out at press time) will launch in the first quarter. A promotion tie-in with MTV’s Road Rules kicked off the campaign in late October, with the show’s finale featuring cast members using CobaltCards to purchase supplies for their final mission. The winning team received their $16,000 rewards in the form of preprogrammed cards. (FYI: The real CobaltCard has a $2,000 stored value max.) Zowi handles CobaltCard marketing in-house.
New York City-based Citibank and Dallas-based American Airlines last month broke an unprecedented program for the pair’s co-branded AAdvantage credit cards. A sweeps proffering the largest total frequent-flier giveaway in history – 100 million total miles – is running through Jan. 8. Each purchase with an AAdvantage card translates into an entry. Ten sweeps entrants win 100,000 miles each day. The effort is supported with ads in newspapers and magazines, as well as via direct mail and in-flight ads.
The Gillette Co., Boston, will break a $150 million-plus campaign in April to launch Venus, a women’s razor modeled on the company’s successful Mach3. The Venus razor and blades come in a wall-mount compact Gillette hopes will attract new users and get current customers to trade up. The product hits shelves in North America and Europe in April with $100 million in broadcast, print, and outdoor ads, as well as an anticipated $50 million in promotional support including event sampling and an Internet sweeps. The global rollout continues through 2002. BBDO, New York City, handles ads; several agencies will work on promotions.
New York City-based National Basketball Association is developing a first-quarter retail promotion with new “official” partner Milk. The league announced a multi-year deal with the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, Washington, DC, last month. The partners will co-develop several efforts, including a first-quarter promotion hyping the nutritional value of chocolate milk. Other plans include a program tied to the NBA All Star Game and the addition of a basketball component to a Milk Mustache mobile campaign hitting 100 cities from April to October.
Boca Raton, FL-based entertainment home page Hollywood.com teamed with Pompano Beach, FL-based travel Web site byebyenow.com on a sweeps giving one winner their own island for a week. The Your Own Private Island campaign serves one grand-prize winner and eleven guests an eight-day stay on Cayo Espanto, a private island off the coast of Belize. Customers enter via the two Web sites, as well as on the site of partner broadway.com. The effort ends Dec. 31.
Independent Pictures, New York City, teamed with data management provider Iomega Corp., Roy, UT, on a marketing program that put a movie trailer and sweeps information on Iomega’s Jaz data storage disks. A trailer promoting Independent’s The Prime Gig starring Ed Harris, Vince Vaughn, and Julia Ormond was compressed onto the disks. A related sweeps is being hosted on iomega.com, with trailer viewers directed to the home page to enter. Five winners score trips to the film’s premiere in New York City. Other winners receive Iomega merchandise and videos of the movie.
TBS Superstation and Turner Network Television, both Atlanta, are combining efforts to promote their consecutive-night NBA programming blocks this season. Marketing for the “NBA on TBS and TNT” began with a Hawaiian House Party sweeps that sent 10 winners to Hawaii for a Thanksgiving party hosted by retired basketball star Jayson Williams. Winners were selected from entries collected during a watch-and-win contest held during the first 10 NBA telecasts on the networks. (TBS and TNT air NBA games on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights.)
Elsewhere, a mobile NBA Jam Van is touring 20 markets to host Thursday night “house parties,” at which fans watch the games on TNT. Other aspects of the joint marketing push include a sweeps giving away trips to the NBA All-Star Game in February and a Call Your Own Fast Break contest. The latter effort lets select fans call a game with a local sports broadcaster and others shoot for a million bucks in a contest sponsored by Lisle, IL-based Budget Rent-A-Car. The efforts are handled in-house.
There’s a new Blue Light special at Kmart, and it’s worth $10,000. Customers who call a toll-free service line this holiday season and give the Troy, MI-based chain feedback about their shopping experiences are entered into a sweeps to win the cash. The Kmart Super Service 800 number is being advertised on cash register receipts. Customers qualify by calling within three days of the receipt date and participating in a brief survey.
Chicago-based United Airlines and Atlanta-based Coca-Cola last month began orchestrating a music-themed effort on 22 college campuses. Out to persuade college kids to sign up for the United College Plus frequent-flier program and enhance awareness for Coke products, the program centers on live concerts and a free interactive CD-ROM given out on college quads. The CDs feature 10 songs from different bands, video interviews with the acts, photos, and Internet links to the United College Plus site. Pasadena, CA-based Disc Marketing produced the CDs. A corresponding sweeps gives winners a road trip to a concert plus airfare, hotel accommodations, and spending money.
Norwalk, CT-based Pepperidge Farm joined with dot-com cooking portal Cooking.com on a holiday effort tying cyberspace to shelf space. Throughout the holiday season, specially marked packages of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry carry a $10 coupon good for purchases from Cooking.com, which sells more than 7,000 cooking products and specialty foods. The coupon will be accepted on purchases of $25 or more. Consumers redeem at puffpastry.com
Showtime Networks, New York City, has spent five weeks and a few million bucks promoting its new Queer As Folk series, which the network says gives viewers an “honest depiction” of gay life. The series debuts this month. Grassroots efforts centered on Showtime’s sponsorship of gay pride festivals, gay film festivals, and other events. The network hosted “VIP Coming Out Parties” at nightclubs in 20 markets including New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Free invitations ran in gay publications. In 10 cities, the network co-sponsored parties with Teaneck, NJ-based Carillon Importers’ Grand Marnier brand. On select college campuses, students received Queer As Folk party kits featuring flyers, invitations, fans, postcards, T-shirts, and boxer shorts. A direct-mail campaign reached one million people.
San Antonio-based beer importer Gambrinus Co. is offering retailers a chance to wish customers a “Feliz Navidad” with holiday-flavored P-O-P hyping its Corona and Corona Light brands. The company is giving retail accounts Corona-branded palm trees, standees with twinkling lights and battery packs, 25-foot strings of ornaments, case wraps, tents, and other material. TV spots will support.
New York City-based Scholastic, Inc. will back its fall PBS debut, Clifford the Big Red Dog, by bringing the pooch to Milford, CT-based Subway’s sandwich shops in first-quarter 2001. A promotion running Jan. 1 through Feb. 18 will feature four Clifford premiums packaged in each Subway Kids Pak meal. In-store P-O-P and online ads support.