OMD Holds on to Visa Account

Agency Retains Media Duties for U.S. and Asia Pacific After Review

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Omnicom Group's OMD has successfully defended its Visa account in the U.S. and Asia Pacific and has won additional duties in international markets following a review, executives familiar with the matter said.

Media duties in some European markets, currently handled by Mediaedge:cia, still have not been assigned, the executives said.

Visa spent about $538 million on advertising worldwide in 2006, with $418 million spent in U.S. measured media.

The credit-card marketer announced a global media consolidation in August. Incumbents OMD, Mediaedge and Publicis's Starcom MediaVest Group pitched, along with non-incumbent Aegis Group's Carat. EEM Group, London, was the consultant.

Preparing an IPO
The media review began before the appointment last fall of former PepisCo executive Antonio Lucio as Visa's first global chief marketing officer. It comes at a time when Visa is preparing an initial public offering expected to raise as much as $10 billion, making it the second-largest IPO in history, eclipsed by only AT&T Wireless Group, which raised $10.6 billion at the height of the dot-com boom in 2000.

Visa, which processed 44 billion transactions last year worth more than $3 trillion, has been trying to get its fiscal house in order prior to the IPO, and making its media spending more efficient may be a way of bolstering its Wall Street debut. Visa posted a fiscal-2007 loss of $1.1 billion, which includes a settlement related to lawsuits involving American Express and Discover.

Visa's creative agency is Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., hired in November 2005. The marketer in Feburary 2006 dropped its tagline of 20 years, "It's everywhere you want to be," and replaced it with "Life takes Visa."

There has been constant chatter in the agency marketplace that the creative portion of the account is vulnerable as Visa battles MasterCard's popular "Priceless" campaign. Visa executives repeatedly have denied the reports.