Discover Card Services, a unit of Dean Witter, Discover & Co., has adopted a marketing campaign designed to increase card usage and access at New York City restaurants.
"Restaurants are the hardest part of credit card sign-up," said Jim Flynn, a Discover spokesman. "Now that we are a success nationwide with everything else. we're making a major effort this year on restaurants."
The Discover card is accepted in more than two million retail establishments nationwide. The card has a 14.8% fixed interest rate and pays a rebate of 1% on purchases. There are 24 million active Discover accounts.
Radio, print, and billboard advertisements, as well as direct mailings, announced the promotion to New Yorkers on Aug. 1. The three-month program will continue through Oct. 31. "We hope at the end we have a penetration of 90% of New York restaurants," said Mr. Flynn.
The marketing strategy consists of four components, which will kick in at different times during the campaign.
Every time Discover card members use their cards at a participating Manhattan restaurant for the duration of the promotion, they will be entered in the Discover Card Dine Out/Cash In $150,000 Manhattan Sweepstakes, in which 130 weekly first prizes of $1,000 and a grand prize of $20,000 will be given away.
Cardholders get a dining guide through the mail that lists participating restaurants. The restaurant where the winner dined will also garner a prize.
In separate, three-day marketing ploys, Discover will send a host of representatives, costumed as cauliflower, lettuce, tomatoes, and other food items, onto the streets and subways of the city to distribute card applications and dining guides.
On Oct. 2, up to 40 Manhattan restaurants that accept the Discover card will participate in the Discover Card Manhattan Dine Out at Central Park's Summer Stage to benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Metro New York and the City Parks Foundation.
The same day, Discover will sponsor the Discover Card Mile on Fifth Avenue, a 14-year-old annual fail race organized by the New York Road Runners Club. The race will also benefit the Make-a-Wish and City Parks foundations.