Consumer Payment Card News


Wachovia, the nations nineteenth largest issuer, announced a major co-branded deal, Monday afternoon, with BMG Entertainment. BMG, a division of Bertelsmann AG, is the owner of music labels Arista Records, RCA Records, Private Music, Windham Hill Group and has a number of related units throughout North America. The BMG VISA card, to be issued by Wachovia in September, will offer cardholders points for each purchase, redeemable towards artist-specific rewards such as concert tickets, backstage passes, special CDs, and autographed memorabilia, among many other rewards. Wachovia indicated it intends to pass on its low-rate pricing, the hallmark of its current portfolio, with the new rebate program in addition to no-annual-fee.

BMG Entertainment North America and Wachovia Bank Card Services announced today that they have signed an agreement to offer the BMG Visa credit card, the first co-branded credit card to provide cardholders with rewards only available through a major, global music company.

By making purchases with the BMG Visa credit card, which will be launched in September 1997, cardholders will earn points which can be redeemed for a variety of BMG Entertainment artist-specific rewards such as tickets and backstage passes to concerts; awards shows and special events; limited edition promotional CDs and special compilations; autographed memorabilia; rare music and videos; and other specially packaged products — much of which is not traditionally available through music retail stores, the music clubs or on-line retailers. Customers’ points will accrue with each use of the low- rate, no-annual fee card, and extra points are granted for use at selected retailers such as electronics stores, restaurants and travel-related companies.

“The BMG Visa credit card represents a point of differentiation for our company and signifies the creative approach BMG Entertainment is taking to the aggressive, non-traditional marketing of our artists and music to the consumer,” said Kevin Conroy, Senior Vice President of Marketing, BMG Entertainment North America. “There is an enormous opportunity within BMG Entertainment to bring all of our creative and material assets to the program to make the BMG Visa credit card the card of choice for the consumer to whom music is a defining element of their lifestyle. The development of this program would not be possible without the strong foundation that we have developed with Wachovia and Visa USA.”

“We are very pleased to be partnering with BMG Entertainment,” said Beverly B. Wells, President of Wachovia Bank Card Services. “BMG Entertainment commands tremendous respect in the music and entertainment industries, and this card demonstrates its desire to provide the consumer with even more value for their money.”

“Wachovia welcomes this opportunity as our initial entry into the co- branding market,” Wells added. “Our primary focus when establishing these types of partnerships will be to reinforce and expand upon existing corporate relationships. We look forward to establishing partnerships with a select group of companies, such as BMG Entertainment, with whom we can share common objectives and bring true value to the consumer.”

Added Scott Richman, Director of Marketing, BMG Entertainment North America: “We were very fortunate to be able to partner with such a respected card issuer as Wachovia to make this program a reality. Wachovia’s reputation for providing consumer value through low-rate credit cards and its recognized excellence in customer service will combine with our exclusive rewards program to make the card a truly valuable, lifestyle-specific credit card for the consumer.”

BMG Entertainment will bring in existing marketing partners as well as establish new marketing partnerships with companies to include their products and services, and make them available as benefits to cardholders. The BMG Visa Credit Card represents another marketing vehicle that enables BMG Entertainment to combine micro-marketing and nontraditional marketing under one program.

Wachovia Bank Card Services is among the nation’s top 20 issuers of Visa and MasterCard credit cards, with a portfolio of more then $5 billion in outstandings and more than three million accounts. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wachovia Corp., a $47.5 billion-asset interstate bank holding company with dual headquarters in Atlanta and Winston-Salem, N.C. Wachovia credit cards are issued by Wachovia Bank Card Services, Wilmington, Del.

BMG Entertainment North America is a unit of BMG Entertainment, the $5.8 billion-a-year entertainment division of Bertelsmann AG, the $14.7 billion-a-year worldwide media enterprise. BMG Entertainment North America includes the music labels Arista Records, RCA Records, Private Music and the Windham Hill Group, as well as BMG Canada, BMG Distribution, BMG Direct, BMG Music Publishing, BMG Special Products, BMG Television, BMG Video and Nice Man Merchandising.

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