beenz.com Taps FCB for Global Ad Campaign

Web currency company beenz.com Monday said that it has selected True North company FCB Worldwide to develop its first global ad campaign.

Consumers earn beenz’s self-named online currency through promotions, by clicking on banner ads or by visiting or shopping at affiliated Web sites. The currency can be exchanged for consumer goods and services at online retailers including BarnesandNoble.com, CD Now, and MP3.com. Consumers can also convert beenz into a co-branded MasterCard debit card account.

The beenz.com campaign, which will be led out of London-based Banks Hoggins O’Shea/FCB, will focus on building brand awareness and increasing the number of beenz consumer accounts, which currently stands at more than three million worldwide.

The new ads will be preceded by a series of strategic alliances, the companies said.

One such partnership comes as part of the Monday’s announcement: FCB will receive part of its fee from in beenz currency, in an effort to publicize its viability as an online currency.

Spending, including the amount of beenz that FCB will receive through the agreement, was not disclosed.

In addition to publicizing business partnerships, the campaign will also contain a viral marketing element.

The campaign strategy, spokespeople said, follows beenz’s self-described recipe for growth.

“beenz.com has grown its consumer base to date by working with its participating merchants, and through public relations, guerrilla tactics and smart marketing,” said beenz.com senior vice president and chief marketing officer Nicolas de Santis.

“The ambition and energy of beenz to become the first global digital currency was a very powerful magnet for BHO/FCB,” said Steve Hastings, managing partner for planning, BHO/FCB. “We are delighted to be working on what we believe is a great business and consumer proposition, and we really foresee that beenz has the potential to become an icon brand of the new economy.”

In some senses, beenz’s chief rival in the online alternative currency market is flooz.com, with whom it announced a currency-conversion partnership late last year. Flooz positions its also-eponymous currency as an online gift certificate, although essentially, it works in the same way as beenz.

However, the companies’ real competition comes from the credit card companies, who enjoy the added benefits of already high brand recognition and wider merchant acceptance, and many of whom are rolling out products targeted at e-commerce customers, such as Visa‘s recently launched Buxx debit card.

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