MALVERN, Pa. -- Acme Markets here played Cupid this past Valentine's Day, pointing its arrow at a joint promotion for prepaid calling cards tied-in with greeting cards. In a campaign that encouraged customers to "indulge in a little long-distance romance," the chain ran full-page newspaper ads promoting prepaid telephone cards and American Greetings' Valentine's Day cards. The telephone cards are being sold chainwide at two different prices: $2 for five minutes of calling time, and $5 for 15 minutes of calling time in the United States. Both cards can be used through Aug. 31, 1995. According to the ad, the $2 cards provide calling time for 40 cents a minute, while the $5 cards offer phone time for 34 cents a minute. Acme declined to discuss sales generated from the promotion or identify the phone card supplier, except to say it's a marketing company.
The retailer touted the prepaid phone cards, which are sold at checkout counters, as"cheaper than making a collect call and at a lower rate than using a pay phone."
Acme ran the promotion entirely on its own. Though officials at American Greetings said they were unaware of the promotion, they felt it was a good way to promote both products, according to a source at American Greetings, Cleveland.
The chain, which has sold phone cards for the past six months, ran a phone-card promotion this past Christmas. But this is the first time the retailer has merchandised them with greeting cards and in newspaper ads.
"Valentine's Day is a natural hook for promoting phone cards and greeting cards together in one ad. The holiday is a time when you think about friends and relatives," an Acme spokesman, who wished to remain anonymous, told SN. One ad, which ran on Jan. 22, read, "This year say I Love You with two cards -- An American Greetings Valentine and an Acme prepaid phone card." The ad went on to say, "This Valentine's Day, indulge in a little long-distance romance, Acme-Style." "Our hope is that it [the ad] will create awareness for the phone card and develop new uses for it," the spokesman added. According to the Acme spokes-man, the chain will continue working to boost phone card sales.
"The prepaid telephone card is still in its infancy and a learning process for customers," he added.