COMPTON, Calif. - Ralphs Grocery Co. here this month launched a consumer promotion for the March 31 theatrical release of "Ice Age: The Meltdown" with the company's first customized prepaid movie card.
The American Express-branded reward card, valued at $16 - about enough for two movie tickets - will be given to Ralphs' Southern California Club members who use their club cards to purchase select items in the store. Ralphs is a unit of Kroger Co., Cincinnati.
Club members who accumulate $40 in qualified purchases from March 8 to April 4 will receive one Entertainment Movie Card from American Express Incentive Services, Fenton, Mo., featuring the Ralphs and Fox logos.
"The gift card is modern and up to date," said Robert Passikoff, president, Brand Keys, New York. "The Ralphs logo on the card serves as a reminder of the company and raises Ralphs' level of engagement in the program."
American Express Incentive Services partnered with Ralphs on the promotion to create a card accepted only in movie theaters or for online movie ticket purchases. The cards replace Ralphs' traditional paper gift certificate rewards and add the ability to purchase concessions as well as tickets.
"There has been a paradigm shift from paper to electronic," Passikoff said. "Gift cards came into their own in the past three years and have completely supplanted paper gift certificates."
The cards may be used at any U.S. theater that accepts the American Express Card.
"This program is about added value for the customer, and using a gift card seems more personal and accepted than a paper certificate because it gives the customer some freedom," Passikoff said.
"Fox's 'Ice Age: The Meltdown' promises to be one of the biggest films of the year. We encourage Ralphs shoppers to use their Ralphs Club Cards and get the movie card early," said Chuck Ackerman, senior vice president of marketing for Ralphs, in a statement.
Participating brands include Breyer's, Coca-Cola, ConAgra Foods, Gatorade, Good Humor, Keebler, Kellogg's, Kimberly-Clark and Kraft. Other promotional materials include direct mail and in-store items such as posters, graphic tags in in-store circulars, tags on qualified product displays, and door and floor clings in the frozen food aisle.
Electronic gift cards also make it easier for companies to record data related to customer-service management, Passikoff said. "These are the types of programs people will come to expect."
In addition, customized marketing programs featuring characters from "Ice Age: The Meltdown" will be offered to retailers nationwide by the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association, Harrisburg, Pa. Among other retailers participating with Fox to promote the film are Wal-Mart Stores, Safeway, Giant Eagle, Harris Teeter and Meijer.