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Time Inc.'s Parenting Group acquired the First Moments in-hospital sampling company from Gruner & Jahr Publishing USA last October with the aim of growing its database of new parents. But First Moments remained contractually obligated to distribute samples of Gruner & Jahr's Parents until Dec. 31, 1999. That presented a marketing challenge: how to start building a database without violating Gruner & Jahr's rights to be the sole publication in the sampling packages?

The Parenting Group's solution is to insert business reply cards in the First Moments kits. For example, the card in the Expectant Parents Kit that's distributed in childbirth classes invites parents to enter a sweepstakes to win college scholarships. Those who mail in the card-emblazoned with a First Moments logo-join the Parenting Group's database.

The kit also includes product samples and a copy of Gruner & Jahr's Parents Pregnancy FAQ. First Moments will include the Gruner & Jahr title until January 2000 and then start to distribute Parenting.

"Buying First Moments allows us to build the database, launch consumer-based products and allows our marketing partners like Procter [& Gamble Co.] and Johnson & Johnson to tap into that market [via sampling]," said Parenting Group CEO John Hartig.

The Parenting Group also formed an alliance with First Photo, which takes in-hospital pictures of newborns and sells about 1.6 million photo packages per year. A new parent is added to the database when she buys a photo package, which includes an issue of Parenting Your New Baby. When photos are mailed, the package includes a subscription offer for Parenting.

The care and feeding of the Parenting Group's database has paid off. It had

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