MSGI Inks Affinity Deal With MBNA

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Marketing Service Group Inc., New York, signed a five-year affinity marketing agreement last month with MBNA America Bank to develop and manage preapproved credit-card customer acquisition initiatives in markets where MSGI has expertise. Those markets include arts, entertainment and nonprofit fundraising.


Although MSGI has agreements with four other financial services companies -- GE Capital, Citicorp, Tosco-Unocal and CIT Group -- MBNA is its first affinity program. MSGI will collaborate with the bank to design the mail pieces and execute the campaign.


"This was a big deal for us," said MSGI chairman and CEO Jeremy Barbera. "We've been courting them for six months."


MBNA, Wilmington, DE, has $50.2 million in managed loans and is one of the leading issuers of affinity cards.


In another announcement, MBNA recently issued the Discovery Channel platinum and preferred MasterCards. The credit cards will be marketed via direct mail, telemarketing (800/775-4844), the Web (www.discovery.com) and at its 125 retail outlets. The direct mail campaign launched in the last week of June; online applications started July 1.


Discovery Enterprises Inc., Bethesda, MD, which oversees affinity marketing, will draw on its database of several million names of catalog and retail buyers from both the Discovery Channel and the Nature Company to conduct the 1 million piece direct mail campaign. Offers for the credit card also will be included on the order forms of both catalogs, which will be out in the fall.


Cardholders will receive coupons for use at both retailers and for merchandise in the Discovery Channel catalog and a quarterly newsletter about Discovery Channel products and services. In addition, a percentage of card revenue will be contributed to organizations that seek to protect endangered species and the environment.
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