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ATLANTA-Bank South, North America is joining hands with the area's leading supermarket chain to promote the bank's new debit card.

For the next six months, customers of Kroger Co. will get discounts when they make purchases with the debit card.

In fact, don't call it a debit card-"debit card" sounds too much like "debt card"-said Craig Metz, director of marketing at Bank South, the fifth-largest bank in the eight-county Atlanta area. Bank South calls it a check card.

Another new wrinkle is the discount feature of using the card.

Bank South's will be the first debit card discount linkup with major retailers in the U.S., Mr. Metz believes.

Until Nov. 1, Kroger shoppers will get a 5% discount for all groceries paid for with a Bank South Check Card. The same discount will apply to purchases at Tune Up Clinic and the NTW a chain of tire stores.

A large portion of the campaign for the card will be Kroger in-store promotions including banners, hangers, floor cards, cards on automated teller machines, ATM slips, newsletters, point-of-purchase ads and cross-advertising with all partners, even in Kroger stores where there is no Bank South branch.

The bank's campaign for the new check card, its largest effort ever, is budgeted at "somewhere between $4 million and $6 million," Mr. Metz said, and will be formally launched on May 1. Teaser radio spots begin today. TV, print, outdoor and direct mail are also included. McCann-Erickson Worldwide is Bank South's agency.

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