Carding a personal score for adverts
A NEW marketing medium was launched this week in South Africa by Norwegian media giant Aller - free postcards sporting advertising messages.
On Monday, more than 600 postcard racks were unveiled in upmarket coffee shops, restaurants, bars and shebeens in the country's major cities.
They offer an assortment of 18 stylish, witty, humorous, provocative or, sometimes, smelly postcards targeted at people aged between 18 and 40 years old.
Ulf Skaug, managing director of Aller subsidiary Kort Sagt, says the next step will be to install the racks in township shops, hair salons and clinics to capture the emerging market.
Skaug claims to have commercialised the idea of free postcards after witnessing a French photographer distributing free photos as postcards in a restaurant as an advert for his services.
In 1991, the concept took off in Scandinavia and has since spread to over 30 countries.
Skaug says 600-million free cards are now distributed each year worldwide and his target for the SA market this year is 43-million cards. "The cards have been well received worldwide, but we have never had a reaction to match that in South Africa."
He believes postcards offer an ideal advertising medium because the public actively choose the "adverts" they like. They may then pin them up at home or mail them to a friend. Research has shown that an average of 65% of the free cards are posted.
Skaug says the postcard medium is not only for those who want to advertise fast-moving consumer goods. Banking and insurance institutions, for example, may use it to dispel their "boring" image among the younger market. Governments also use it to highlight safe sex or to warn against drunken driving.
As part of its philosophy, Kort Sagt uses some of its cards to promote charitable or social causes. Among the cards currently being offered in South Africa is one which outlines the harm of abusive speech. Another is part of a campaign which calls on President Mandela to make crime a major priority.
Indeed, Skaug is responsible for once "bombing" the French embassy in Norway from a helicopter with 16 000 postcards signed by the public protesting against nuclear weapons tests.
Advertisers pay R15 300 for 90 000 cards.
Kort Sagt has set up an SA office, called Grapevine, and has offered local stakeholders a small share. Skaug, however, is not commenting on the size of his group's investment here.
Further investment from the Aller group could follow. Aller, Scandinavia's largest media group, owns 75 magazines, as well as TV and radio stations.