By Published on .

MasterCard International is going for the warm fuzzies-mentioning things its credit card can't be used for-in its first advertising from McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York.

The new campaign, tagged "There are some things money can't buy. For everything else there is MasterCard," tries to appeal to credit card users' emotions about life, MasterCard executives said.

MasterCard suffered against American Express and Visa cards when " '80s values" were dominant and MasterCard was seen as a card for everyday expenditures, said Nicholas Utton, senior VP-marketing. But '90s consumers want less conspicuous consumption, he said, and it's a good time to reinforce that positioning.


"We're not doing a personality transplant. . . . It's enhancing our value," said VP-Advertising Lawrence Flanagan, adding that the new ads position MasterCard as the card to use to pay for things that matter to the consumer.

Absent from the new campaign is the "Future of money" theme. During its account review, MasterCard had stipulated that the "Future" theme had to be used by the new agency. Previous MasterCard shop Ammirati Puris Lintas developed the theme, but resigned the business in March. McCann won creative on the $100 million account in September (AA, Sept. 8).

During the review process, "Future of money" ads from the other finalist, Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, were aired.

The new campaign takes a more sentimental tack. The first TV execution, which broke Oct. 22 during World Series coverage on NBC, shows a father and son at a baseball game. It places dollar values on all the components of the outing-tickets, snacks and autographed baseball-but rates "real conversation with an 11-year-old" as priceless.

The spot closes with a mention of MasterCard's corporate sponsorship of Major League Baseball, a sponsorship it beat out Visa USA to win Oct. 20.

Other spots feature children playing with toys charged over the Internet, a couple adopting a dog at a shelter, golfers at play and a family picnic. In each case, an intangible emotion related to an activity also is rated as priceless.

The same theme will be used in print executions breaking in January issues, as well as in radio spots, and will be integrated into MasterCard's Web site (


While MasterCard "wouldn't mind if we ate into the competition as well," the company is targeting expenses that most consumers pay for with cash or checks, said Alan Heuer, president-U.S. region.

Consumers spend $4 trillion annually, only 14% of that with credit cards and 1% with debit cards, Mr. Heuer said.

The MasterCard executives would not disclose the budget for the campaign. Mr. Heuer said spending will likely grow as MasterCard follows aggressive plans to roll out the advertising and increase its marketing budget in 1998.

MasterCard's measured media spending fell 39.2%, however, during the first quarter vs. a year earlier. Last year, Visa spent more than double MasterCard's

Most Popular
In this article: