RocketCash, Sprite.com Launch Teen Marketing Promotion

In a bid to drive teenage users to its Sprite.com Web site, beverage bottler Coca-Cola North America, a division of the Coca-Cola Co., will offer RocketCash‘s online currency to Sprite drinkers, beginning in mid-October.

Through the promotion, which concludes in late 2001, caps of 20-ounce, 1-liter and 500-ml bottles of Sprite will be marked with codes redeemable at Sprite.com for $0.20 to $1.00 in RocketCash.

Soft drink makers have been striking big online marketing partnerships lately, in deals like this one that leverage their substantial offline promotional assets. Coca-Cola in May forged a deal with America Online, which is expected to result in promotions involving the AOL Moviefone brand, Coke’s sponsorship of the Olympic Games, and the Christmas holiday season. Back in March, rival Pepsi-Cola Co. joined forces with Yahoo for a five-month joint online-offline promotion.

“Sprite.com offers teens a direct, online gateway to purchase any merchandise from RocketCash merchants and allows us to enhance our ongoing relationship with Sprite drinkers,” said Jan Hall, senior vice president and director of consumer brand marketing, Coca-Cola North America.

With more than one billion bottles being sold with the special caps, the deal is also a major windfall for RocketCash, which gains exposure to teenagers, its chief target audience and one of Sprite’s largest groups of consumers.

“Partnering with Sprite reinforces our leadership as the premier destination for shopping online without needing a credit card, while introducing RocketCash to millions of new teen consumers,” said RocketCash president and chief executive officer Jeffrey Mason.

“RocketCash provides the means for Sprite to offer an original, creative program that allows teens to turn offline rewards into online money that can instantly be used at the Internet’s most popular merchants,” he added.

RocketCash is marketed toward teens and their parents as a safe way for children to experience e-commerce, similarly to a debit-card system.

But RocketCash’s technology enables consumers to aggregate several forms of currencies, including online incentive dollars, offline promotional points, gift certificates, money orders, personal checks and U.S. dollars into one account.

More than 100 e-tailers accept RocketCash, including Emusic, GraffittiOnline, Eve.com, Borders, WorldCom Prepaid and the NBA Store. Some of these retailers will also be offering Sprite.com-specific discounts and deals.

The Sprite promotion will kick off with a special “account-stuffing” phase, when participants who activate a RocketCash account at Sprite.com and enter codes from 15 caps will receive a $5 RocketCash bonus.

The program will be supported by national broadcast, radio, print and online ad spots, as well as in-store point-of-purchase materials and special packaging.

RocketCash’s payment-facilitating technologies are making it a hot property lately: in June, ad- and e-commerce-supported free ISP NetZero announced its intention to purchase the company in a deal valued at about $35 million.

NetZero intends to utilize RocketCash’s currency aggregation and payment processing systems to create a robust merchant network for the ISP’s more than 4 million registered users.

The companies expect the merger to be finalized later this quarter.

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