NEW YORK-McCann-Erickson has won the creative portion of MasterCard International's estimated $85-90 million ad account, the client said Friday.
The New York agency beat finalist Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, also New York, following a six-month review.
Ammirati Puris Lintas in New York is the incumbent but did not defend the business.
Nick Utton, senior vice president, U.S. marketing at MasterCard, said Friday, "We're confident that McCann-Erickson will help us effectively and consistently convey our vision in a way that differentiates MasterCard from its competition and is relevant to consumers."
McCann president Jim Heekin said "a very specific idea" had tipped the balance in favor of his agency. He declined to elaborate. Both contenders' work was put through vigorous testing, sources said.
MasterCard initially invited four additional shops to participate: Grey Advertising, New York; Leo Burnett, Chicago; GSD&M of Austin, Texas, which has MasterCard's U.S. media buying and planning account; and J. Walter Thompson, which declined the invitation.
The Purchase, N.Y.-based client put its account in review in February after new work from Ammirati designed to replace its four-year old "Smart Money" campaign tested poorly. The agency had been developing the new campaign for more than a year. The search also came about nine months after Nick Utton joined the company from Revlon's international division.
One MasterCard ad currently on the air, by MVBMS, uses the tagline, "The future of money," created by Ammirati.