New postcard ads making inroads in Egypt

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CAIRO--Advertising postcards that have blossomed in Europe and the U.S. have now hit the Egyptian market thanks to a new, Danish-owned firm called Carte Blanche.

The postcards, which advertise everything from cars to fruit drinks are now offered free to customers frequenting 100 upscale bars, restaurants and hotels around Cairo.

Carte Blanche's 30-year-old founders, Henrik Vester and Lars Mourey, say they may expand their ven-ture to other countries in the region. "We first want to go big in Cairo," says Mr. Vester, sales director for the new firm, which opened late last year.

A former investment banker, Mr. Vester moved to Cairo from his native Denmark last August to help set up the postcard business with Mr. Mourey. The business idea came from a Danish friend who launched the "Go Card" concept in Denmark a decade ago. Currently, "Go Card" postcards are available in about 10,000 outlets in Europe and North America.

So far, Carte Blanche has signed on a number of transnationals, including Philip Morris, Cos., DaimlerChrysler and Motorola, along with local companies. Carte Blanche sells the firms advertising postcards in batches of 10,000 -- about a 10-day supply, Mr. Vester says. Prices start at about $1,500 a batch, and go up from there.

Is the concept working? Customer United Motion Pictures, for one, is happy. "It's been helpful for us," says head of the company's Cairo office, Antoine Zeind, who recently advertised the recent Egyptian opening of "There's Something about Mary" on the Carte Blanche postcards.

Copyright April 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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