Visa to Break First Global Marketing Theme

'Go' Is at Center of TBWA's Responsible-Spending Pitch

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YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- Visa is encouraging consumers to "Go" with its first unified global marketing theme, set to launch March 4.

Visa - Go
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Visa's 'Go' campaign comes less than six months after the marketer consolidated its worldwide creative accounts with TBWA Worldwide.

Not to go out and spend more money but to go out and live their lives, or "go responsibly," which the marketer intends to mean to spend more cautiously and thoughtfully. Of course, don't forget to make Visa your payment choice.

The new tagline, "More people go with Visa," includes TV ads voiced by actor Morgan Freeman that feature the word "go" spelled out in plumes of rocket smoke, a scuba diver's bubbles, a passport stamp, scattered vinyl records, grocery produce and human beings. Print and outdoor ads do the same, using bikinis in one ad and historical artifacts in another for Mexico and Brazil, colorful cultural symbols and food for Asia, and gardening in one ad and fortune cookies in another for the U.S.

"One of the wonderful things about 'More people go with Visa' is it's a universal truth," said Kevin Burke, Visa's head of global consumer marketing. "In some respects, it's just a new, fresh articulation of the attributes at the core of our brand -- universal acceptance, convenience and security. ... And 'go' is a universal word (that is) understood internationally."

The campaign comes less than six months after Visa consolidated its worldwide creative accounts with TBWA Worldwide. That review was undertaken after the credit-card issuer became a public company last March. The marketer sought to create a worldwide message and tone, as well as to improve efficiencies through one agency.

One report suggested the new push carries a $140 million price tag, but Mr. Burke said that number was not supplied by Visa, and declined to say what the spending was. The marketer's U.S. measured media spending was not available at press time.

The previous tagline, "Life takes Visa" in the U.S., had a variety of iterations globally, including "All you need is Visa," "Visa. All it takes" and "Life needs Visa."

The flagging economy has not weighed as heavily on Visa and its smaller rival MasterCard, because they're not holding debt and losing out when consumers default, like banks are. But both companies make money via transaction fees each time consumers use the cards, and when transactions are down, so are their bottom lines. During Visa's most recent quarterly earnings call, executives cautioned that its growth will likely slow and that it will cut costs.

When asked about cutting marketing costs, Mr. Burke said he had "nothing more [to add] than what has already been reported in analyst calls."

He did say that Visa is continuing to shift its marketing budget to digital, because online is not only where consumers are, it also gets Visa closer to the moment transactions occur.

"This is not about getting people to spend more," Mr. Burke reiterated, adding that Visa believes there are other opportunities. "We're really looking at how consumers are living their everyday lives ... and how we can get them to convert cash and check transactions to electronic payments."

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