RYDER DEBIT CARD MAKES PHONE FREE

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Ryder Truck Rental is using prepaid phone debit cards to attract movers to rent its trucks.

In a TV and radio campaign starting today, the company will introduce a two-month promotion that gives consumers 20 free minutes of long-distance calling time for every truck rented. The offer uses debit cards from telecommunications company Advantage Communications.

"This should really help take the stress out of moving," said Todd Nelson, Advantage exec VP. "When you leave an old house, you turn off your phone service. This allows you to make calls easily, without involving tons of change."

Karla Scott, product line manager for Ryder, noted that during 1993's off-peak winter season the company offered free Domino's pizzas with each rental.

"We think the debit cards are even more directly related to moving, and we're very excited about the promotion," she said.

Ryder's nearly $2 million ad campaign from Ogilvy & Mather, New York, will run on a variety of network prime-time and sports shows, primarily on Fox. Promotion is handled by On Target Media, Cincinnati.

One radio spot features a man calling to his brother and sister-in-law at various points along the route toward his new home. The campaign slogan: "You pick up the truck, you pick up the phone and we'll pick up the bill."

Ryder has bought 300,000 phone cards from Advantage.

Debit cards are relatively new to the U.S. but have been popular in Europe and Asia for years. They can look like baseball or credit cards and feature any image a marketer wants.

Ryder's card has a picture of one of the company's trucks and the label "Ryder Easy Call."

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