Visa USA has signed a major advertising deal with Conde Net's Epicurious, part of an aggressive effort to bump up the credit card marketer's Internet presence.
Visa this month launches a yearlong "Cities to Dine For" program of restaurant reviews on Epicurious Food and Epicurious Travel. Visa will entice visitors to search for restaurants by city and cuisine.
The first eight cities are New York, San Francisco, Paris, Sydney, Rome, London, Vancouver and Tokyo. By yearend, the program should include 19 cities.
But while the scope of the deal is large, the depth of the content isn't: The database is expected to list only 152 restaurants. Travel publisher Fodor's worked with Visa and Conde Net to create the restaurant content.
Guided by BBDO Worldwide, New York, which which has historically lagged behind in the area of new media, the No. 1 credit card company has built a variety of beyond-the-banner Internet partnerships in recent months.
Visa is a sponsor of GeoCities' NapaValley, a community focusing on gourmet food and wine.
When users visit NapaValley, one of 34 GeoCities areas where they can construct free home pages, Visa's brand appears on a strip at the bottom of the screen.
Visa also gets "presenting sponsor" status as the underwriter of Restaurant Row, an area within NapaValley where users compare notes on culinary hot spots.
Yahoo! had been working with Visa to create an online mall called the Buyer's Guide, but those plans have been shelved. Instead, the companies will thread commerce applications throughout Yahoo!.
DINING, TRAVEL TIE-INS
The moves tie in with Visa's plan to integrate its brand "into unique areas within the Internet where there is a high concentration of users and lifestyle content about dining, travel, leisure, sports and shopping," said Fran Laufer, senior VP-associate media director at BBDO.
"It's not enough simply to have a banner ad and be involved in the Internet. We want to break through and stand out in this new media, leveraging Visa's brand in a variety of ways to be part of interesting sites, and to be as creative as possible about how we do that," Ms. Laufer said.
Visa has also connected with The Wall Street Journal Online, where it provides transaction capabilities and information for small-business customers.
Copyright May 1997, Crain Communications Inc.