Bank, Wrestling Association Pin Down New Credit Card

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You wouldn't expect to see a credit card with a picture of Hollywood Hulk Hogan or other professional wrestlers on it, but that's exactly what Capital One Bank and World Championship Wrestling hope to change.


The two are targeting the 32 million WCW fans with an integrated marketing campaign featuring the new credit cards with images of several wrestlers. Paul Cusenza, vice president and managing director of Value-Added Alliances at Capital One, Falls Church, VA, is looking to reach a new customer base.


"WCW has 32 million fans that are very passionate about the sport," he said. "We believe that these same people would like the opportunity to have the images of the wrestlers on their credit cards."


The direct mail pieces being sent out contain information on the card and its benefits, including entry into a sweepstakes to win a trip to a WCW pay-per-view event next year. Consumers can apply for the card by returning the enclosed application, calling the toll-free number or applying over the Internet.


Cardholders receive a 10 percent discount on all WCW catalog merchandise ordered by telephone, information regarding when tickets for events go on sale and a newsletter with the latest behind-the-scenes news and calendar updates.


Applicants can choose from 12 different images to put on the front of their cards, including Hogan, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, Bret "Hit Man" Hart, Kevin Nash, Diamond Dallas Page, Bill Goldberg and the Nitro Girls dancers.


Cusenza would not disclose the number of people being reached in the direct mail campaign but said the goal was to contact as many of the 32 million people in the WCW fan base as possible, which includes TV viewers and showgoers in the United States, Canada and Japan.


"I believe we are going to exploit the 200,000 people in our database first," said Michael Weber, director of marketing at WCW. "Then, we will begin to market the card to people outside of that database."


Weber said the agreement makes sense because of the similarities in the demographics of the customer and fan base for the two companies.


"What's great about the partnership is that Capital One provides financial service to people in just about every financial demographic there is," Weber said. "And our fan base is made up of people that fall into just about every financial demographic there is."


With professional wrestling continuing its popularity, Weber said this is the perfect time to launch the project.


"WCW has the highest rated cable TV show in the country," he said. "At every arena show, our fans spend an average of $8 to $10 on merchandise each."


Ads for the card will appear in the WCW/nWo monthly magazine, which has a circulation of 175,000, on the WCW Web site (www.wcwwrestling.com) and during WCW's weekly TV programs on TNT and TBS. Information also will be distributed at the 200 live arena events throughout the year.


"We are taking advantage of all the different mediums that WCW has access to," Weber said. "It is very cost effective for us in that we won't be paying as much for commercial time or advertising in the arenas because we are owned by the same company as the TV stations."


Cusenza and Weber expect the cards to be successful, based on early response to the toll-free number and Internet ads.


"The preliminary numbers show that just as many people have been applying for the card on the Internet as the 1-800 number," Weber said.
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