Telecoms Take Exception
Traditionally, telecommunications companies have relied more on enhanced servicessuch as reduced rates, increased cellular minutes, extra features, rebates and free equipmentto entice potential customers, making premium offers from this sector more the exception than the rule. And 2004 has been no different. As a matter of fact, so far this year telecoms seem poised to hit a new premium low, with only 8.7 percent of mailings in this sector offering such gifts, which is down 42 percent from 2003.
But while roll-over minutes, pop-up blockers, caller ID and express delivery do the trick for some telecoms, others take the exception, offering traditional premiums that have stood the test of time.
One such telecom is MCI, which has been offering free Blockbuster movie rentals since at least March 2000, according to
research in the Who's Mailing What! Archive. These offerings have ranged from 10 free-movie coupons to gift cards in denominations of $20, $25 and, most recently, $50 (808MCIGRO0704BX; 808MCIGRO0804). Interestingly, these two mailings take very different approaches to the same premium. Save for the amount of the gift card, the July effort is very similar to packages received from MCI in the past: a #10 white, indiciaed envelope that features a short letter outlining both the calling plan$49.99 a month, unlimited local and long distance calls, caller ID, call waiting, voice mailand the gift card program, with the gift card spot-glued in the letter's upper right-hand corner. Unlike these previous mailings, where the movie rental premium has played a supporting role, the gift card is the real star of the August effort, a #61/4 cream envelope with a Presorted Standard stamp and a short, three-panel brochure with sparse copyprice and plan specifics are not listed and customers are invited to "Call for pricing and availability"and the gift card spot-glued to the center of the piece.
AT&T Wireless is another telecom that is not afraid to stick with what works. In July, the Archive received another of the telecom's offers for a free headset with activation (along with a free phone and express delivery), which has been its premium of choice since at least 2001 (808ATTWIR0704CX). In summer 2003, the Archive did receive three Blockbuster movie rental premium offers from AT&T Wirelessone each in August, September and Octoberbut those efforts disappeared as quickly as they came.
But in terms of longevity, movies and headsets can't hold a candle to the sweetest telecom premium of all: Working Asset's 12 free pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, which it has been mailing for at least 10 years, and which the Archive received twice this summer (808WORASS0704X; 808WORASS0804X).
But not all telecoms are inclined toward the tried and true, especially when venturing into the world of Internet service. AT&T Communications recently mailed an effort for its Business Class DSL service that offers a $75 webcertificate for enrollment (837ATTCOM0804). The Archive has received this virtual MasterCard gift card premium from AT&T only one other time: in a December 2003 Christmas card mailing.
Wireless, DSL, satellite and at-home calling provider SBC also mailed some new premiums in July: a 12-month subscription to Xbox Live Internet gaming service, headset and Xbox video game in support of its DSL package (837SBCCOM0704), and a free DVD for current subscribers who upgrade their SBC service (808SBCCOM0704A).