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It’s already happened in Detroit, Phoenix, Tampa and Atlanta. If you live in Los Angeles, Portland or Boston, it’s now happened to you. And who knows where it might happen next?

Valassis, the publisher of the RedPlum coupon inserts, has stopped distributing its coupons in more major cities’ Sunday newspapers. And unlike the earlier removals, the latest efforts don’t all appear to be targeted at hotbeds of coupon insert diversion.

Los Angeles, for one, has long been a problem area when it comes to coupon insert thefts and sales. Many of the coupons and inserts sold online by “clipping services” are stolen from distribution facilities (and several people have been caught in the act of doing just that). Valassis has been tracking where those inserts are coming from, and cutting off the sellers’ suppliers by cutting off the newspapers that it believes aren’t doing enough to prevent inserts from being stolen.

So, using that logic, it makes sense that Valassis is removing its RedPlum inserts from Los Angeles-area newspapers, including the L.A. Times, the country’s fourth-largest newspaper by circulation. But what about Portland, where the Oregonian newspaper lost its RedPlum inserts last week? Or Boston, where the Sunday Globe informed readers that it has stopped carrying them effective yesterday? Those markets weren’t necessarily on insert publishers’ radar when it comes to stopping the sale of stolen coupons.

Valassis is being characteristically cagey about its reasoning. “Valassis continuously evaluates distribution channels by market based on many factors including security, reliability of delivery and retailer alignment and coverage,” Mary Broaddus, Valassis’ Director of Corporate Communications said in a statement to Coupons in the News. “Our priority of placing relevant promotions into the hands of consumers and meeting our clients’ needs in the market is unwavering.”

A desire to get more coupon inserts into more consumers’ hands was behind an earlier Valassis effort a decade ago, to remove inserts from newspapers with declining circulation and send them via mail instead. That effort was ultimately discontinued. But it was revived earlier this year, with a new rationale – to stop delivering inserts to markets whose coupons were showing up for sale online.

And now, this renewed effort appears to be something of a combination of both concepts. In some cases, it’s due to insert thefts – in others, it may simply be a marketing decision to shift delivery from newspapers to direct mail.

We don’t know for sure, because another difference between a decade ago and now, is that Valassis was very open about its actions back then, but is being closed-lipped about it today. When RedPlum inserts were removed from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution over the summer, Valassis wouldn’t say why – it was the AJC that admitted to Coupons in the News that “Valassis claimed to have tracked the origin of inserts that are being made available for sale, and have determined that they are coming from certain cities, so they’ve chosen to no longer make them available via the major newspapers in those cities.”

Representatives for the Boston Globe, the latest paper to lose its RedPlum inserts, did not respond to questions about why Valassis cut it off, and whether it was a mere marketing decision or a response to concerns about insert thefts.

Meanwhile, in another curious and possibly related recent development, two months after Atlanta lost its RedPlum inserts, a small-town newspaper about 40 miles away excitedly announced that it would begin carrying them. “RedPlum coupons are coming back to The Newnan Times-Herald!” the paper announced last weekend.

Could it be that as major cities lose their RedPlum inserts, smaller suburban papers surrounding those cities will start getting them instead? Valassis wouldn’t say, and the Newnan Times-Herald didn’t know. “I just received the order from Valassis and don’t know anything else,” the newspaper’s Sales and Marketing Director Colleen Mitchell told Coupons in the News. “They haven’t run in a very long time with us so we are just happy to have them back.”

One final thing that’s different today than a decade ago – the first time Valassis began moving RedPlum inserts from newspapers to direct mail, there was a huge outcry. Couponers complained loudly and called for boycotts, and their plight got national media attention.

This time? Not so much. Many couponers are disappointed, and some are saying the lack of easy access to RedPlum inserts will cause them to seek out the very insert sellers that Valassis is trying to thwart. But with couponing itself on the decline along with newspaper subscription rates, critics of the move are simply not as vocal as they once were.

And that may be just what Valassis needs, to carry out this latest initiative unimpeded. So don’t be surprised to see an ongoing drip, drip, drip of stories about more newspapers losing their RedPlum inserts in the weeks and months ahead. If it hasn’t happened in your city yet – it may be just a matter of time.

10 Comments

  1. Dear Honest Couponer, AKA Jane from FAKE Brand Technology HAHAHAHAHA!!!! I know this is you. You crack me up! HAHAHAHA!! Loser!!!

    • Honest Couponer says:

      I’m not Jane but my company is a client and her company is very real. Now tell us again where you were getting 50,000 inserts a week!? I hope you realize how tough you have made it for people like me…you know, the honest couponers!

    • Honest Couponer says:

      By the way, Nycole, how are the legal proceedings going against Angie Wall, the “reliable seller” in Mississippi who ultimately drove you out of the insert-selling business? #NoHonorAmongThieves

    • Honest Couponer says:

      Say it ain’t so, Nycole! You ran off poor Kelli and “inserted” yourself back into the coupon insert-selling business (see what I did there!!!)??? Well isn’t that just so special!? I guess it’s “Game On”!

  2. To compensate for declining circulation, in metro Detroit (Valassis HQ is there), Detroit Free Press/News distribute a free “publication” with inserts and ad flyers to non-subscribers. Red Plum pulled from them also.

  3. Not only did the Los Angeles Times lose the RP but every newspaper in the Los Angeles region did, too. Los Angeles Daily News, Orange County Register, Torrance Daily Breeze, Long Beach Press Telegram, Riverside Press Enterprise, San Gabriel Valley Tribune just to name some that lost their RP inserts since 10/1 reported in SoCal deals groups I participate in.

    Only paper that appears to have picked up RP is the San Diego Union Tribune which lost it a while back.

    I started getting an RP insert in my snail mail last week. Never before. But only one of the two inserts that was dated 10/1 & supposed to come in that Sunday’s newspaper.

    Since RP also distributes P&G BrandSaver, already lost by the L.A. Times in February 2017, it will be interesting to see if they also dump it from the suburban papers in the L.A. region. They never sent it to my snail mail & I am in the city of Los Angeles.

    • Dear Glenn, I can get you all the RPs you’d like. I will connect you to the person who bought my company.

      email me at: drmumma14@yahoo.com

      NM

      • Honest Couponer says:

        Seriously Nycole!? Haven’t you done enough damage to the industry over the past 6 years with all of the receiving and selling of stolen property that you’ve perpetrated through the theft and diversion of coupon inserts from across the country!? Is the baking business not going so well? Give it a rest already as the industry tries to clean up the mess that you and your pal Dani created over these past several years!

        • Dear Honest Couponer, I have shared this post with my lawyer. Who do you think you are? I could sue you for this. If their was anything wrong with selling coupons, people would not be doing it. Give me your real name and address and I will send you some baked goodies. Or you can go crawl back under the rock you came out from under you dumb beyotch.

          • Honest Couponer says:

            Seriously, Nycole!? Did you read today’s edition of Coupons In The News? It says, in part, and I quote: “The coupon insert publishers say there is no authorized way to obtain, buy or sell extra coupon inserts – the only way inserts are meant to be distributed is through the mail or the newspaper.” So based on this comment, please explain how you were able to amass and sell 50,000 inserts a week, as you proclaimed on numerous occasions on your former Facebook group!? Diversion and/or theft appear to be the only options. Receiving and selling stolen property is a crime, so it’s great to hear you have a lawyer. But hey, it’s all good since you had a business license so…! I will give you credit for this: you got out of the coupon business just in time, as you knew the walls were closing in on you!

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