SOURCE: Serious

November 02, 2007 06:30 ET

Manchester United Revolutionises the UK Gift Card Market

LONDON--(Marketwire - November 2, 2007) - This November, the UK will see the launch of its first ever interactive DVD Gift Card for Barclays Premier League champions, Manchester United. Chosen by the club as the medium to promote One United, its official membership scheme this Xmas, One United DVD gift cards will hit points of sale in over 300 Sainsbury's nationwide this Autumn, making it a first in the sports space too. The cards which look like standard plastic gift cards have a hybrid DVD-DVD ROM bonded to the underside that is packed with video and interactive content.

"These interactive gift cards should help take the guess work out of present selection for our fans this Xmas," commented Steven Hall, General Manager - Ticketing & Membership, Manchester United. "The cards give fans instant credit to join the club's membership scheme, which then means that they have access to home game tickets, can get their names on the Season Ticket waiting list, as well as other exclusive benefits like discounts, entry into competitions to win autographed merchandise and the special welcome member packs. And with over 10 million Reds supporters in the UK alone,” he explained, "this will mean no more hesitation about what to buy for the Manchester United fan in your life. These cards are the perfect Christmas gift."

According to GiftCard Nexus, interactive DVD gift cards are one of the reasons why gift cards sales are expected to hit $35 billion in the States this upcoming Xmas. Serious, the international patent holders and publishers of interactive cards, is the company creating this exciting technological revolution worldwide, and is behind a slew of existing and upcoming interactive gift card programs Stateside, already working with major retail partners, Circuit City and Home Depot. As Peter Ellul, CEO, Serious Europe explained, "Prepaid interactive gift cards are now set to fast track the gift card industry in the UK too, offering significant advantages over the paper gift vouchers and static plastic cards that are currently being used in this country. By helping the provider better understand its customers and communicate with them on a more personal level, Serious' digital gift cards can ultimately improve consumer experience and therefore increase loyalty and sales."

All these benefits are delivered via the custom-built multimedia content that is playable in DVD players or drives, as well as in the gaming consoles PS2, Xbox and Xbox 360. In One United's case, the cards carry exclusive player video clips and match footage, as well as a comprehensive illustration of all the membership benefits and most importantly of all, an easy click thru to redeem the card currency to join the membership scheme online. From a provider's point of view, the interactive gift cards can be used to track purchases and consumer activity, creating the opportunity to personalise subsequent marketing and promotional information based on consumer preference. So in summary, gift cards are no longer solely transactional devices, but have now evolved into digital mar-comm tools as well.

One United's interactive gift cards are being distributed to Sainsbury's by Serious' distribution partner, InComm Europe and from 8th November can be found at points of sale in select Sainsbury's stores nationwide, priced #17 for junior membership (under 16) and £28 for adult.

One United Overview:

One United is the official membership scheme of Manchester United. Membership to One United qualifies fans for a membership pack and a list of benefits, from the chance to apply for tickets to home games, £5 discount off tickets for all home fixtures, to free admission to home reserve games and the opportunity to join the Season Ticket Waiting List, as well as discounts in the Museum & Tour Centre, Megastore and Red Café and much more. Official site: www.manutd.com/oneunited

Serious Overview:

Serious is an award-winning, privately held digital publisher and marketer with offices in New York, London and Singapore. Its portfolio of intellectual property includes over 100 optical card patents in 60 countries. Applications of its proprietary technology include interactive gift cards, loyalty cards, pharmaceutical patient education cards, direct mail programs and collectible digital trading cards.

Serious' clients include; BBC Worldwide, Best Buy, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Disney, Electronic Arts, Virgin, Circuit City, five of the top 10 US pharmaceutical companies, Sony Pictures, New Line Cinema, Manchester United, Estée Lauder, Home Depot, Warner Brothers, The Lance Armstrong Foundation, Tissot and ESPN. Serious was a recent winner of a Promo Interactive Marketing Award 2007, took 3rd place in the MAA International Globes 2007, and was a finalist in the Promo Awards, The Y Design Awards, the Connect Awards and the Sport Industry Awards 2007. It has recently been nominated for a Creative Media Award and Fresh Digital Award. Official site: www.serious.com

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