Connecting credit card collecting tto the baseball card phenomenon, U S West Credit Card Services created a 30-second television spot to simplify consumers' choice.
The commercial, "Collectors," ends a four-week, primetime run on Nov. 16 in the Minnesota, Denver, and Phoenix areas.
Produced by CME Video & Film in Minneapolis, the spot features a husband, wife, and son.
"We collect things," the wife says. "With our son, it's baseball cards. Us, we collect credit cards." The husband is shown holding a slew of cards.
"But now, U S West has a simple answer," says the wife. "The U S West Visa. One card that does it all."
In the end, the couple make their chouce: "We're trading all our cards for this one," the wife says. Her husband chimes in, "Even if it doesn't come with bubble gum."
The tag line is already familiar to U S West Inc. telephone customers in 14 states: "For simple answers like our Visa calling card, count on U S West."
"We try to bring customers products and services we hope will simplify their lives," said Robert M. Kelley, relationship marketing manager for the credit card operations.
The campaign is part of a push by U S West's credit card division in Phoenix to double its number of credit card holders in the fourth quarter.
The company has sent 2.3 million customers a pre-approved solicitation and promotion package tied to the collecting commercial. The mailings are complemented by telemarketing.
The U S West Visa, like the AT&T Universal Card, operates as both a telephone calling card and a general purpose credit card. U S West introduced the product at an introductory 8.9% variable interest rate.
After six months, the rate increases to 14.9% for Visa Gold and 15.9% for Visa Classic. U.S. Bank in Portland, Ore., issues the cobranded credit cards.
A visa Business Card, with a $45 annual fee and the same interest rate, is also available in Washington and Oregon. The program is to be expanded.
Since May, 100,000 people signed up for the telephone calling card, a response rate it claimed that tripled the industry average. By yearend, U S West anticipates signing up 250,000.
The company's long-range forecast calls for one million active accounts within five years.
Enticements include no annual fee and rebates of 1% on card purchases and 2% on calls, up to $500 a year. Cardholders can use their home phone number plus a personal identification number for U S West Visa calls.
Next spring, Mr. Kelley said, the company plans to show its 30-second ads again or expand the campaign to other metropolitan areas. U S West may also use print and radio.
The commercial "was designed with an eye toward using it again in future campaigns," Mr. Kelley said. The copy describes a low interest rate but isn't specific.
In the meantime, U S West is taking advantage of a unique advertising opportunity from a sister company in the U S West Inc. corporate family. U S Public Services has installed 400 Milennium Smart Phones in airports and other high-traffic areas, Mr. Kelley said.
A customer who picks up the phone will be offered applications for the U S West Visa card by calling a toll-free number. Eventually, U S West will install 4,000 of these pay phones.