Bell card initiates co-branding

Bell Canada will begin co-branding its prepaid long-distance phone cards in September.The Bell HELLO! Phone Pass allows the buyer to make long-distance calls anywhere in the world using a 12-digit code unique to each card.Originally designed for foreign travellers in need...

Bell Canada will begin co-branding its prepaid long-distance phone cards in September.

The Bell HELLO! Phone Pass allows the buyer to make long-distance calls anywhere in the world using a 12-digit code unique to each card.

Originally designed for foreign travellers in need of an easy way to call home, phone cards have pushed their way into the corporate and consumer market since Bell began testing the product back in September 1993.

To date, the hello! card has held only the Bell logo, but co-branding the card holds potential benefits for Bell and the co-brander, says Linda McColligan, manager, consumer market management for Bell.

The client can take over the full face of the card and distribute it in marketing and sales promotions as it sees fit.

In turn, Bell raises its profile within the company and has help marketing a relatively unfamiliar product.

‘Also, it’s protection of our toll – at least we know that the people using our cards will be using our network,’ McColligan says.

Maintaining its customer base is a prime concern at Bell now that long distance phone service has been deregulated and competing companies are doing their best to steal market share.

Toronto-based Sunnybrook Health Science Centre will be one of the first to market co-branded phone cards to its 75,000 database members.

According to Maureen Healey, communications and public affairs representative for the Sunnybrook Foundation, the fundraising arm of Sunnybrook hospital, the cards will act as a sort of added-value feature for Bell’s RealPlus Savings Plan, which will come into effect Sept. 1, pending approval by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

The savings plan, in connection with the Sunnybrook Bell Ambassador Program, will offer members a 15% discount on their long-distance bill and donate 5% of the savings to the hospital.

Bell will market RealPlus through direct mail sent to Sunnybrook’s database.

Since it is illegal to send unsolicited phone cards through the mail, Bell will distribute promotional material on RealPlus and provide consumers with the opportunity to request a card.

According to McColligan, with so many companies executing phone promotions, access to a database today is more important than it was a year ago.

McColligan says it is pointless to simply throw out direct mail promotions to an unidentified group, adding the Sunnybrook database gives Bell a clear idea of whom it is reaching.

As part of its marketing efforts, Sunnybrook will sell the co-branded cards in vending machines located on the hospital’s premises.