Nine-Brand Coalition Rolls Out Campaigns for New AmEx Loyalty Plan Plenti

Offering Consumers More Than Individual Reward Plans Can

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American Express and the marketers participating in its new rewards program Plenti are rolling out ad campaigns that promote each other's businesses as well as their own.

An American Express campaign created by Ogilvy & Mather features anthropomorphized objects to embody participating brands -- a singing handbag to represent Macy's, for example, and a gas pump for ExxonMobil. "It personifies this idea of what you'll see in each of our different partners' retail locations," said Pepper Evans, VP-branding and marketing for Plenti at American Express. "It's Plenti bringing these brands together for the first time."

Rite Aid, another member of Plenti, began a campaign yesterday that also features Macy's and ExxonMobil, along with AT&T.

AT&T, meanwhile, is rolling out a national TV and print campaign around Plenti this week. ExxonMobil will push the program this summer. And Macy's is infusing Plenti into existing messaging including in-store signage, TV, digital and social, as well as upcoming events like the "Great American Summer Sale," when shoppers will earn double Plenti points.

The Plenti rewards program, which began May 4, allows consumers to earn and redeem points across Rite Aid, Macy's, AT&T, ExxonMobil, Nationwide, Direct Energy, Hulu and Enterprise Rent-a-Car. The goal is to bind consumers into a larger ecosystem than an individual marketer's loyalty program can offer -- while still excluding each marketer's rivals.

"The customers that are shopping across multiple brands are the most valuable for us and the heaviest spenders," said John Learish, senior VP-marketing at Rite Aid. "The opportunity for us is really to drive cross-sponsor points and use of the points."

The Plenti push was a collaborative effort among the chief marketers from all nine partners, as was the program's name, branding and logo, which features all the brands' colors.

"It's a new way of creating a brand," said Ms. Evans. "This is all about collaboration."

The campaign will include direct mail, out-of-home, TV, digital video and in-store signage as each of Plenti's participating marketers bring their marketing weight to the effort.

The Rite Aid campaign, created by Pittsburgh, Pa.-based Marc USA, pounds the message that Rite Aid's pre-existing Wellness+ loyalty members will still reap the benefits they've always enjoyed.

"We need to very clearly communicate to our customers that this is one card with two kinds of points," said Mr. Learish. "We need to keep reinforcing that because that is without question the richest reward structure in retail."

With Rite Aid's five-year-old Wellness+ program, customers earn points for every dollar spent on items other than prescriptions and receive rewards when they reach certain thresholds. For example, gold members, who have at least 1,000 points, get 20% off purchases storewide for a year.

Now, with Plenti, members will earn additional points on a rotating set of promoted products each week, points that can be redeemed at Plenti partner locations. Points earned elsewhere can also be used at Rite Aid.

The loyalty initiative will be the Rite Aid's core marketing focus this year, as it seeks to build on the success of Wellness+, which has nearly 25 million members and is associated with roughly 75% of Rite Aid sales. "This will absolutely receive the largest share of [our marketing] dollars," said Mr. Learish, adding that he expects to enroll all Wellness+ members in Plenti.

Rite Aid spent $47 million on U.S. measured-media in 2014, according to Kantar Media.

One Rite Aid spot follows a woman who shops at Macy's, AT&T and Exxon while on her way to pick up cough medicine for her husband at Rite Aid. When she gets to the drug store, the cough medicine is free because of the Plenti points she earned along the way.

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The Rite Aid effort also includes radio, circular and digital elements, including online how-to videos, as well as a direct mail campaign aimed at the most loyal Wellness+ users.

More than two million Macy's customers enrolled in Plenti during the first week, according to the retailer. Other partners, including Nationwide, are pushing the program to existing customers.

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