Visa and MasterCard, the two leading card brands affected by the falloff in consumer spending, reduced advertising budgets in the first half significantly. But both have come back with solid spending in the third and fourth quarters.
The credit-card companies were presented with some challenges in 2009. First and foremost, the risk that their advertising is seen as encouraging reckless spending or increasing consumer debt; and secondly, being closely associated with the financial institutions seen as responsible for much the economy's woes. So how did they handle their media campaigns while driving their business?
Advertising strategiesBoth brands made significant changes to their approach to advertising.
|Visa Go: Entertainment Weekly ad|
"More people go with Visa"
Visa's major marketing change in 2009 was a branding revamp. After three years of "Life takes Visa," it introduced the word "Go" in a new global tagline -- "More people go with Visa." Rather than encourage charging up big aspirational purchases, the creative messaging was not about spending more, but about using Visa for those things that are important to you every day. One of its launch TV spots in early March asked, "When was the last time you went to the aquarium with your daughter on a Tuesday?" A hallmark of Visa's marketing effort is significant sponsorships behind the Olympics, FIFA, NFL, Kentucky Derby, Nascar and MLS. It ran Olympic-related advertising and promotions leading up to the Vancouver Winter Games.
|MasterCard's Marlon Brando jeans ad|
'Priceless' pushes on
The "Priceless" campaign has been synonymous with MasterCard for the past 12 years. Unlike Visa, which overhauled its branding this year, MasterCard adapted its "Priceless" messaging to focus on consumer sensibility and responsibility amidst tough times. This spring's "Jeans" campaign featured footage of icons Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe, among others, ending with the line: "The perfect pair of jeans -- Priceless." For the holiday season, MasterCard launched ads featuring Peyton Manning and Alyson Hannigan to promote MasterCard's "Priceless Gift Finder" application.