The U.S. Treasury Department is planning a major marketing campaign this fall to promote the sale of millions of dollars worth of commemorative Olympic Coins, but as far as Rep. Frank Annunzio (D-Ill.) is concerned, the effort is a dollar short and a day late.
"I'm bitterly disappointed," says Annunzio, chairman of the House Banking Committee's subcommittee on consumer affairs and coinage and the sponsor of legislation authorizing the commemorative coins. "The program is not being pushed hard enough.
"The money should be rolling in by now. When we come back after our August recess, I'm going to hold hearings to find out why these coins have not been distributed and sold in all financial institutions throughout the United States." He said $16.6 million has already been raised for the Olympic committees through coin sales with only minimal publicity and advertising.
A year ago this month, in an attempt to provide a measure of government support for the 1984 Los Angeles Games and for the training of U.S. Olympic athletes, Congress enacted the commemorative coin law. It authorizes the minting and sale of up to 50 million 1983 and 1984 Olympic silver dollars and up to two million Olympic gold $10 dollar coins, the first gold coins to be minted in the United States in 50 years.
For each silver coin sold, $10 goes to the Olympics, divided equally between the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee, and for each gold coin sold the Olympics get $50. The coins are being sold in three separate packages: the 1983 silver dollar proof coin for $32, the 1983 silver dollar proof coin and the 1984 silver dollar proof coin for $64 and the two silver dollar proof coins plus the 1984 gold $10 proof coin for $416.
Roy Hale, acting treasurer of the United States, said the 1984 coins are not yet available, although orders are being accepted, because the coins are official U.S. currency and cannot be minted before 1984. Coins can be ordered by mail from the San Francisco Mint, 55 Mint St., San Francisco, Calif. 94175 and are available over the counter at the Philadelphia Mint and at the main Treasury Building in Washington.
Hale said he's aware of Annunzio's criticism, but terms it "a difference of opinion. We're all trying to reach the same end. We are developing a full-blown promotional effort, but we are really now just getting under way." So far, said Hale, the campaign has steered away from paid commercials, hoping to rely on free public service ads.
Don Condit, an account executive with D'Arcy/Poppe Tyson, the New York-based marketing consultants for the commemorative coin sales, agreed that "it's legitimate to say it's too bad the whole program didn't start sooner."
But Condit said he has an ambitious marketing plan, including direct mailings, to promote sales beginning in the fall. Banks he's talked to have been unenthusiastic about selling the coins over the counter, he said, because their lobbies are crowded enough as it is.
But many have agreed to include mail order forms for the coins in the monthly statements they sent their customers, he said. Those forms will also be available in post office buildings.