The Stars are in the Cards

Jerry Seinfeld would call it the advertising campaign with no advertising.

Credit card marketer Novus Services, a unit of Dean Witter, Discover & Co., calls it a nontraditional approach to marketing.

For this year’s Private Issue (shown here), which features art created by celebrities, the Riverwoods, Ill.-based company decided to enlist the help of its agency, DDB Needham Chicago, in a new way. It wanted strategic planning rather than ads.

Vicki McMannon, Novus vice president of marketing, said that although the agency wasn’t ‘exactly thrilled’ with the idea of no ads, DDB came up with the research, planning and negotiation of contracts for this year’s three featured artists: performer Tina Turner, New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing and the late Grateful Dead band member Jerry Garcia.

Instead of ads, DDB and New York public-relations agency Wachsman Associates will stage a variety of events in the coming months aimed at building a new image for the card. Last year’s TV spots will be replaced by events featuring the celebrity artists.

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