Brad Morgan, Visa's executive v.p. of sales and marketing, said the latest spending hike was part of a three-year plan to "bring spending in line with our market-share position." According to The Nilson Report, Visa had 45.2% of the $421.3 billion U.S. general-purpose card market last year. "Our price is the same as MasterCard and less than American Express, so what we do must be working," said Morgan. Visa's message will continue to be delivered primarily by 30-second TV spots from BBDO. However, Visa is just concluding a summer radio campaign that trades on the equity established by its long-running TV ads, and the $2-3-million campaign is expected to be at least doubled next year.
"Radio allowed us to expand the number of merchants we use, it reaches light TV viewers, and, obviously, it's less expensive," said Visa ad director Jan Soderstrom.
Marketing executives at rival card brands were skeptical when told of Visa's spending plans. "We heard about an $80 million budget for this year, and we haven't tracked it at that," said one dubious high-ranking exec who requested anonymity. "That $100 million is car or fast-food kind of money. This only makes sense if they are going to subsidize a big co-branding program," an unlikely move. Morgan, however, maintained that the figures were legitimate and noted that Visa's Winter Olympics involvement would hike media spending considerably by itself.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)