Mullen is counting on the digital revolution to breathe new life into the all-but-forgotten S&H Green Stamps.
Mullen is developing a campaign to renew the popularity of the 103-year-old program, which may have been the first national consumer loyalty initiative.
The Wenham, Mass., agency won the account without a review. When Manchester, Mass.-based Sperry & Hutchinson Co. approached Mullen about bringing back the stamps, agency executives found the challenge was too good to pass up.
"We all experienced this when we were young," said George Rogers, Mullen senior vice president and group account director. "We saw how powerful it was."
"We're pretty convinced that there's a cultural equity that goes with Green Stamps," said S&H president Rod Parker. "The persona needs to be designed for the next 100 years, not the last. That's the challenge for Mullen."
Mullen will launch advertising in the spring. Spending has not been finalized.
Green Stamps became a cultural phenomenon in the 1930s and '40s, when retailers across the country dispensed stamps with each purchase. Consumers collected the stamps in books, eventually redeeming them for merchandise at S&H showrooms In the 1960s, more Green Stamps were printed than postage stamps, Rogers said. "It was the biggest, most ubiquitous program of its time."
In the 1980s, Sperry & Hutchinson endured ownership changes and the program was allowed to lapse into virtual obscurity.
In February, the company's founding family relaunched S&H, intending to reposition Green Stamps as "greenpoints," a kind of "digital rewards currency." Beginning in the first quarter of 2000, consumers will receive scan cards that participating retailers will use to award them points for purchases.
S&H is in discussions with interested retail companies, Rogers said, but would not identify them. K