VISA BUYS INTO VIDEO-GAME ADVERTISING

Credit-Card Brand Integrated Into Plot of 'CSI' Title

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Visa USA is making its first foray into the growing world of video-game advertising with a PC game based on the CBS hit franchise "CSI" that hits stores today.


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In one of the five criminal cases that make up the game, "CSI: 3 Dimensions of Murder," Visa’s fraud-monitoring capabilities take center stage when a suspicious charge on a victim’s credit card triggers an investigation by the forensic-sciences team. While the Visa brand is also incorporated into signage and other background elements of the game, it was the rare opportunity to be a central part of the plot that caught the eye of the credit-card marketer.

OMD and Ubisoft
Visa's media-buying agency OMD, part of the Omnicom Group, brought Visa the idea from game publisher Ubisoft. Then the agency and marketer worked with Ubisoft to craft Visa’s role in the script, said Jon Raj, VP-advertising and emerging media platforms, Visa USA.

“In the interactive space, we’ve learned the value of engagement is so high and it places a great role in getting our messages through,” he said. “It’s working a lot harder for you than a message that is just repeated multiple times.”

Mr. Raj said Visa is actively seeking out the emerging media where consumers are spending an increasing amount of time. “Our consumers are shifting their habits,” he said. “Just throwing out a TV or radio spot doesn’t work anymore. We need to look at new ways," citing platforms such as cellphones, interactive TV, digital-video recorders and in-game integrations.

Not part of TV deal
Mr. Raj declined to disclose how much the integration cost. Though the "CSI" game series is published by Ubisoft as part of a worldwide licensing agreement with CBS Consumer Products, the buy was handled separately from TV negotiations. The new game is the third in the series of "CSI" games.

A Visa spokesman said Ubisoft’s expectations for the game are about 75,000 sales the first week and, in the long run, the publisher expects sales to surpass the sales of its predecessor in the "CSI" series, about 300,000.

Visa unveiled a new tagline, “Life Takes Visa,” at the opening of the Winter Olympics. The advertiser has long pushed the security position in its marketing communications.

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