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To promote awareness of its debit card, Visa USA wanted to show consumers how the product worked like a check but involved a lot less hassle.

The solution: Initiate an advertising campaign that demonstrates how even a self-promoting pro athlete, a slobbering cartoon duck and a failed presidential candidate must drag out different forms of identification when they write checks.

The combined talents of Deion Sanders, Daffy Duck and Bob Dole seem to have worked. Since the $35 million campaign from BBDO Worldwide, New York, started running during the 1996 Summer Olympics, more people have been using the Visa Check Card more often.

"We wanted to answer basic questions about the product," says Liz Silver, Visa's VP-advertising, 45, whose duties included overseeing the introductory Check Card ad campaign.

Although some banks have been issuing these cards for 10 years, this was the first nationwide advertising effort to support the product.

In 1996, there were 1.2 billion Visa debit-card transactions representing $45.9 billion, up from 715 million transactions involving $31.8 billion in 1995, according to company figures. These data also show that as of May 1997, banks have issued 46 million cards, up from 31.8 million at year-end 1995, according to figures from Visa.

Ms. Silver says future ads will stick to the convenience theme and continue to feature well-known personalities.

"We're not changing anything very radically," Ms. Silver says.

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