MasterCard and Ammirati developed the line "The future of money" as a replacement for the outgoing "Smart money" tag several months ago. MasterCard wholeheartedly endorsed the concept; however, the agency struggled to win approval for a campaign (AA, Dec. 16).
One day after learning about the review, Ammirati announced it wouldn't compete.
"We firmly believe that the campaign we have created for MasterCard is precisely what the association needs to continue its global growth, and we stand by our work," said Martin Puris, Ammirati's chairman-CEO and chief creative officer.
In a statement, MasterCard said, "We have taken steps over the past year to bolster our brand positioning, and now we need to consider a long-term advertising approach that will effectively and consistently convey this vision in a way that is differentiating and relevant to consumers."
VERY SELECT REVIEW
MasterCard said it will conduct a "very select review." Executives close to the company said only three agencies are likely to be invited to pitch. MasterCard media agency GSD&M, Austin, Texas, almost certainly will be one of them.
Others mentioned include Leo Burnett USA, Chicago; Grey Advertising; Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising; and Messner Vetere Berger MacNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, all New York. Saatchi has a conflict; it handles Visa in Europe.
The review comes five years after Ammirati & Puris won the account from Lintas in a review; Ammirati and Lintas merged two years later. It also comes at a pivotal time for the No. 2 credit-card franchise. With technology rapidly changing the way consumers buy, competitors in the global payment-systems business are in a mad dash to establish brand leadership.
In the past five months, Ammirati repeatedly reworked "Future of money." Three times, MasterCard conducted consumer research on the work, according to executives familiar with the process. Each time, the results were below MasterCard's targets.
"We didn't agree on the testing procedures," Mr. Puris said. "We just didn't see eye to eye."
TEAM TRADED IN
Last fall, Ammirati replaced its lead creative team on the account. Brent Bouchez and David Page, now president and executive creative director, respectively, at M&C Saatchi, New York, were replaced at MasterCard's request by Adam Goldstein, senior VP-managing director of creative.
At about the same time, MasterCard replaced VP-U.S. Advertising Joan Bogin with Lawrence Flanagan, previously VP-marketing, L'Oreal. Mr. Flanagan reports to Nicholas Utton, senior VP-U.S. marketing and advertising. Alan Heuer is president of the U.S. region.
Agency executives expect New York consultancy Morgan Anderson to handle the review, as it did the 1992 MasterCard media review. At press time, Morgan Anderson said it had not been retained.
"MasterCard is the future of money. That's our vision," a spokeswoman said. "As we look for an agency, we'll be looking for how best to translate this vision into a tagline and a campaign."