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BlueCross BlueShield launches discount-card campaign for its members

BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is mailing packs of discount cards to its 220,000 area members to promote the health insurer’s brand and to encourage healthy living.

The “Blue Boxes” going out over the next month to subscriber households contain more than $1,000 in two-for-one deals at cultural venues and restaurants in the area. There are 50 cards for cultural activities and regional exploration, such as ice skating at Canalside, and 50 cards for healthy food and restaurants, such as the haddock bruschetta at the Eagle House. Fans of Buffalo’s cholesterol-laden culinary favorites, fish fries, chicken wings and doughnuts are out of luck.

“This program is about bringing value to our members and at the same time supporting local businesses that enhance the physical and economic health of the communities we serve,” Gretchen Fierle, the insurer’s senior vice president for marketing and communications, said in a statement.

The health insurance company is kicking off the marketing campaign on Friday by sending around CEO David W. Anderson and other employees to hand-deliver Blue Boxes to Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, Kaleida Health CEO Jody L. Lomeo and other notable subscribers. The BlueCross BlueShield team also will hand out the boxes to city firefighters and to officials at Mentholatum, the Orchard Park company that is the insurer’s oldest commercial client.

BlueCross BlueShield, the region’s largest insurer, said it is the only Blues plan in the country offering a discount-card promotion of this kind. The insurer worked with City Dining Cards and the Eric Mower + Associates advertising agency to design and produce the promotion, which required the printing of 22 million discount cards. Patrick Finan, co-founder of City Dining Cards, said if the local campaign proves to be a success he hopes it will spread to other markets.

Company officials said the boost to the company’s brand is well worth the cost of the campaign, which works out to about $6 per Blue Box and comes in place of a traditional billboard or television ad campaign.