Valassis Angers Blogger Moms by Yanking RedPlum Coupons From Newspapers

Last Updated Feb 16, 2009 1:10 PM EST

Valassis's decision to stop using newspapers for its RedPlum coupon inserts is causing drama across the kitchen tables of suburban America. Now a campaign to have them brought back has been started by coupon-clipping moms who are also bloggers.

The issue is also a fateful for one for the newspaper industry. The worst-kept secret in newspapers is that many "readers" actually only get their local paper for the coupons. The lost revenue will cripple some local papers much more than competition from the web.

Most people in the ad business -- the trendy folks in Manhattan and Los Angeles -- couldn't care less whether newspaper coupons live or die. But as the recession turns consumers into bargain hunters, the coupon issue could potentially be a huge one.

And Valassis is tempting fate by angering online blogger moms. They recently forced an apology out of Johnson & Johnson and cancelled an advertising campaign for Motrin when that company suggested that women who carried babies in slings were being trendy.

So far, the only online news outlet to notice (ooops! There have been four reports) not many news outlets have noticed that Valassis has abandoned coupons. Here's WKYC in Cleveland.

At grocery stores like Dave's Supermarket every day is double coupon day. Losing the popular RedPlum coupons in the Sunday newspapers is a big disappointment.

Madelyn Carter said, "That's the first section I go to is the comics where the coupons are located and look for the coupons and the sales. I do it every Sunday."

Dave's Supermarket Assistant Manager Gregg Heidrick said, "This is a very big deal. The way the economy and the way things are going those coupons mean a lot. It helps customers out and we bring in more customers to the store."

Valassis is moving its coupons to direct mail. Consumers who want them can sign up at RedPlum.com. But coupon cutters with blogs, and the moms who blog about them, have started a campaign to get Valassis to go back to newspapers (that's where the image came from). Coupon cutters are an older and more traditional demographic (despite the blogs) and Valassis's online strategy risks disrupting their lucrative habits.

Among the campaigners are MenuMakerMom:

Apparently, this is happening in a lot of newspapers across major cities in the states of Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New jersey, Utah, Virginia, Washington DC, North Carolina, Maryland and Texas.
And Mercedes, who runs CommonSenseWithMoney.com. But the center of the campaign is BringBackTheCoupons.com. There are already 16 pages of comments from clippers. Typical quote:
Kim Dufur: Please put the coupons back in the paper. I rely on them to purchase groceries for the 5 of us in our family. The economy is really bad and the coupons help us out. My husband won't have a job in about 2 months time and then I'm going to really need them! I purchase 5 news papers a week to help us out with food. Please put them back!
Valassis reveals its Q4 earnings results Tuesday; it will be interesting to see if the Wall Street analysts have any questions over the company's decision to annoy its target demographic.