Visa, CNN in first global media buy

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NEW YORK -- Visa International has bought its first global media package, joining a growing number of organizations that are recognizing the benefits of portraying a consistent message across the globe.

BBDO Worldwide, New York, put together the deal with Turner Broadcasting Sales Inc in which Visa will leverage its worldwide sponsorship of the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan via CNN's "Olympic Update" programs.

Visa will be one of two sponsors of the "Update" series (the other is yet to be named) which kicks off on July 5 and continues through the Games. Initially, the programs of two-to-five minutes will be shown four times in one day, once a month, on CNN's four feeds, including Europe/Middle East/Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific, to 210 countries.

As the Games draw nearer, the four-a-day "Updates" will be shown once a week. Two weeks before the start and until the end of the Olympics, they will be aired every day. Visa and the other sponsor will each run a 30 second commercial during every "Update" and will take it in turns to have their branding on the opening and closing billboards. The exact costs of the multi-million dollar deals are not disclosed.

"Visa spends an enormous amount of money on getting the worldwide rights to use the Olympic rings," says David Levy, executive vice president international ad sales at Turner Broadcasting Sales Inc. "The difficulty is how to take advantage and really use them. We can offer them that global opportunity."

The idea of buying media in a global package is one that is taking hold in a number of international corporations, fueled by aggressive marketing from satellite and cable companies.

In May of last year, BBDO New York also brokered General Electric Co's sponsorship of a new weekly business series called "The First and the Best" airing on NBC throughout the world. That was followed by a global sponsorship tie-up in June between IBM and NBC Cable in a new TV series about how technology is changing people's lives around the world.

Turner Broadcasting Sales Inc also sold its first "Olympic Update" package last year, for the summer Games in Atlanta. IBM and Kodak were the sponsors.

Levy claims the trend to global buys has burgeoned over the past two and a half years to the extent that "20% of the total dollars committed to Turner [including CNN, TNT and Cartoon Network] are tied into some kind of global deal."

Visa International, based near San Francisco, has been an Olympic sponsor since 1986. It appointed BBDO Worldwide its agency of record last year. This, its first global media purchase, will be funded by all six Visa regions: Asia-Pacific; Canada; Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa; the European Union; Latin America and the Caribbean, plus the U.S.

Copyright June 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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