Michael Bronner unveiled plans last week for UPromise, a new loyalty program designed to help consumers save money for college educations. The Digitas founder has raised more than $34 million in venture capital for his endeavor and is in the process of signing partnership agreements with retailers in a variety of industries, including automotive, consumer package goods, financial services, home PCs, Internet service providers and telcoms. Investment companies including Fidelity Investments, Merill Lynch & Co. and Salomon Smith Barney have signed agreements to manage tax-free savings accounts for UPromise members. The program deposits cash rebates in members' accounts based on purchases made through UPromise partners.
FreeSamples.com launches a direct mail campaign this week hoping to convince 5,000 consumer package goods brand managers to use the online sampling site to test products. The mailings, created by FCB Worldwide, Chicago, contain a miniature garbage can filled with shredded cash. "Make sure your marketing dollars don't end up where most samples do," is emblazoned on the top of each recipient's box. FreeSamples, currently in beta test, lets marketers conduct product surveys online after a consumer chooses to receive a sample.
Val-Pak.com, part of Cox Target Media's Val-Pak cooperative direct mail division, will be increasing the number of coupons it delivers using e-mail via LifeMinders, Herndon, Va. The Largo, Fla., company recently tested targeted e-mail delivery by sending coupons to LifeMinders members in the top 50 markets.