DIRECT NEWS: Industry gives ’free’ phonecards plan a cautious response

A company claims to have come up with a ’revolutionary’ incentive for consumers to part with personal information in the shape of a ’free’ phonecard.

A company claims to have come up with a ’revolutionary’ incentive

for consumers to part with personal information in the shape of a ’free’

phonecard.



Integrated Global Communications, an independent company, is joining

forces with the telecoms operation, RSL.Com, in the venture.



The phonecard, worth between pounds 3 and pounds 50 in calls for the

consumer, would be included in direct mailings. The recipient would have

to answer up to nine questions over the phone before being able to use

the card.



The phonecard can be customised to incorporate a company or product logo

and to play a message from a sponsor every time it is used.



The top 60 through-the-line advertisers have received a mailout

detailing the concept.



Harvey Ellingham, the sales and marketing director for IGC, said the

response rate for the cards was between 45 and 60 per cent. He added

that advertisers would be credited against future orders for any cards

not used.



Industry reaction to the cards has been mixed. Mark Patron, managing

director of the market research company, Claritas, described the concept

as ’brilliant,’ adding that it was an idea Claritas had itself

considered.



However, he questioned its financial viability. ’Every time we’ve looked

at this route, we haven’t been able to make the numbers work,’ he

said.



Although Claritas uses coupons and other incentives to encourage

response to mailshots, the costs fall well below that of subsidising

phonecards.



But John Quarrey, managing director of IMP, welcomed the idea: ’Its

primary value would be to target people who are never going to fill in a

questionnaire in a million years.’



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Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).