Loyalty cards are not restricted to supermarkets and coffee chains - Marseille's entrepreneurial drug dealers have started using them too, according to the French publication Provence. The marketing tool features a price list and opening hours. One frequent customer said "there's a kind of fee schedule, with promotional offers, and empty boxes provided to confirm my next purchase."

Much like a coffee shop loyalty card, buyers can get money off regular purchases - once the ten empty squares are stamped, the customer will receive $11 (€10) off their next purchase. The card also features a friendly note: "We look forward to seeing you in the neighbourhood, thanks for your loyalty".

The entrepreneur is working long hours to keep customers happy, keeping the "shop" open from 11 am to midnight.

This is so unusual in the dark economy that one user reportedly said "I thought I was hallucinating. I thought I was at a pizzeria or something."

The marketing tool has also created a great PR buzz for the dealer, who for obvious reasons, prefers to remain unnamed. The dealer told Provence "It went around on the internet and got a crazy buzz going. Now everyone's coming to the neighborhood to see it with their own eyes."

A global media story and a huge spike in customer interest is the kind of thing marketers in the world's largest companies dream of, yet this has been achieved without a huge marketing spend and (presumably) without an expensive MBA. As consumers are getting frustrated with advertising and using ad-blockers, the value of native advertising, viral stories and PR buzz is only going up. It remains to be seen whether the likes of Coca-Cola and Unilever seek the entrepreneur out as a marketing buff.

Marseille's Police Commissioner has some doubts though, saying "We have never found it in searches or in connection with the questioning process, so this is not likely to be a credible story." Neighbours are also said to be unhappy with the global attention the marketing stunt is bringing to their neighbourhood.


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