AOL Courts Families Through Upromise Partnership

America Online aims to boost its family-friendly image and offer its members reasons to sticking around through its partnership with college savings program Upromise. The ISP will promote the deal with a $30 million on- and offline campaign.

Upromise is an affiliate program through which consumers save for college by buying through participating merchants or purchasing particular products. Those merchants and manufacturers agree to donate a certain percentage of purchases back into buyers’ Upromise college savings accounts.

Under the partnership’s terms, AOL members receive double college contributions for purchases at Upromise participating companies. These include major grocery and drug stores, Exxon and Mobil locations, countless online stores, and McDonald’s restaurants.

“We believe this partnership highlights another reason that AOL offers such an extraordinary value to our members,” said Jonathan Miller, AOL’s chairman and chief executive officer.

The partnership comes as AOL looks to shore up its subscriber base. It continues to lose members to broadband and other ISPs. The deal capitalizes on the company’s family friendly image. AOL has long promoted its parental control features, which allow parents to protect their children by blocking certain sites and functionality online. It also recently launched a service for kids called KOL, and another aimed at teens called Red.

Upromise and AOL plan to further integrate the program into the AOL service, adding things like AOL alerts and Upromise account updates. AOL members will also be able to ask friends and family members on their instant messaging “Buddy Lists” to join Upromise and support a future student.

The $30 million online and offline marketing campaign will include print, radio, television, banner advertising and other promotions. The banner ads will appear through the AOL service and utilize rich media placements, including some on the service’s Welcome screen. The launch campaign begins Monday and continues through June 20, but promotions will continue through the life of the deal. Another big push is planned for the fall back-to-school period.

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