VALENTINE PLANS BUD FOR FTD, 800-FLOWERS

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Sardonic sweethearts are sending cynical sentiments to Newt on Feb. 14.

Meanwhile, over in cyberspace, poetry is in motion.

Welcome to Valentine's Day marketing, 1995 style.

For the $12.4 billion floral industry, Valentine's Day is the second most popular holiday after Mother's Day. And this year, marketers have put some flower power into unique promotions touting this holiday of love.

Florists' Transworld Delivery has teamed with 150 public radio stations nationwide in a cause marketing program that encourages consumers to send roses to their sweetheart in an effort to raise money for National Public Radio.

Ironically, since the FTD marketing effort began two months ago, Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich-whose opposition to public broadcasting funding has been highly publicized-has received five orders from consumers around the country.

The Valentine's Day program is being promoted by the NPR stations through Feb. 14 over on-air promotions. The effort was also advertised in the Feb. 10 issue of USA Today in an ad, created in-house by NPR, headlined "For the love of public radio."

Consumers are asked to call 1-800-987-ROSE to pledge $120 for a dozen roses, with $70 going to the local station.

Along with the promotion, FTD will spend more than $3 million on Valentine's Day with spots on shows like "Entertainment Tonight" and "Dateline NBC" and print efforts in TV Guide and People, all created by D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

FTD put its estimated $35 million account up for review last month as part of an evaluation of all business operations following its December merger with Perry Capital, a New York-based investment firm. FTD has talked with several undisclosed agencies, and DMB&B is expected to take part.

Also getting in the holiday mood is 800-Flowers. The Westbury, N.Y.-based company is shooting to score with the interactive crowd with an online contest.

In the competition entitled "You don't send me flowers," consumers were asked to write a poem about the person they love. More

than 2,500 people vied to win a weekend trip for two anywhere in the U.S., $500 spending money and a monthly floral arrangement for a year.

John Gretchen from New Castle, Del., won the contest with a poem about how he met his fiancee on America Online.

"The purpose of the contest is to bring awareness of the holiday out before the holiday," said Elaine Rubin, manager of 800-Flowers' Interactive Services Division.

The contest was advertised online via America Online, CompuServe, eWorld and the Internet, with ads created in-house.

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