Visa Sweepstakes Offers 'Immunity' From Bills

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Visa USA began the Visa Immunity Challenge sweepstakes this month in a tie-in with the CBS show "Survivor: Marquesas" to drive purchases at Web sites of participating online retailers.

The sweepstakes offers Visa cardholders a chance to win "immunity" from an online purchase, plus an extra $5,000. The sweepstakes, which runs through the end of May, will select one winner each week.

Twenty-four online merchants are participating, including eBay, the CBS Online Store,,,, RedEnvelope and Barnes& Consumers are entered each time they use their Visa card at one of the 24 merchants, and they also can enter without making a purchase by sending their name, address and phone number on a postcard to Visa.

"The goal clearly is to provide Visa cardholders incentive to use their Visa cards online," said Gerry Sweeney, senior vice president of marketing at Visa's E-Visa division. "The promotional concept is relatively simple. It's playing off the 'Survivor' aspect of getting kicked off the island."

Marketing for the sweepstakes includes a Visa-sponsored mini-site, and 70 member banks also have set up mini-sites. In addition, 113 member banks are participating with bill inserts and e-mails advertising the Immunity Challenge. The card issuer also is advertising online with weekly ads on the "Survivor" Web site.

Though the card issuer hopes to tightly integrate its online and offline promotions, the Immunity Challenge is exclusively an online promotion, Sweeney said.

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