ANA Annual Meeting

All Systems Go: How Visa Became Both Global and Local

CMO Lucio Explains How the Marketer Executes its 'Currency of Life' Positioning

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Don't use the term "glocal" with Antonio Lucio.

the global chief marketing, strategy and corporate development officer for Visa says he "hates the word" noting that there has never been a better time for a global mind-set. Instead, the native Spanish speaker prefers the term "global y local" to indicate a marriage of the global and local marketing.

And Visa is truly global. In his presentation to ANA today, Mr. Lucio noted that the company operates in 200 countries, with 17,500 banks and does $17 billion in transactions a year. Some $5.2 trillion goes through the Visa system.

While e-commerce is borderless, he noted, it is entered through local portals, so Visa looks to use a "global discipline" in marketing combined with "local dynamism." But changing the Visa mind-set was not a simple thing, streamlining a once disparate local organization under "one owner of the marketing agenda" – the global CMO. "The regional team became part of the global team," Mr. Lucio said, and Visa's agencies TBWA and OMD formed a parallel structure.

What united both the global and local initiatives was one message: Visa offers the "universal currency of life." The marketing proposition was "a currency that enables people to fulfill their needs," Mr. Lucio said. That theme was executed under the "Go" campaign that positioned Visa as the brand of action: "More people around the world go with Visa."

The message was carried out locally – such as a campaign in India in which a man is urged to go not to the ATM but to his local merchant to use his debit card—but also on a global scale with the Olympics. Visa told the story of local teams and athletes around the world with ads like "Go Canada" and "Go world" that played out on TV, Facebook, YouTube and other venues conveying the message, Mr. Lucio said, that "Visa is part of the experience, the excitement, the moment that spoke to people everywhere around the world."

It also paid off with higher transaction rates – "our biggest competitor is cash," noted Mr. Lucio. A chart he showed that encompassed at least 10 quarters indicated transactions rose, sometimes seeing double-digit gains. The perception that "Visa is better than cash" also jumped 9% in the U.S., 19% in Mexico, 26% in China and 15% in Russia.

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