TBWA\C\D Breaks New ‘Takes’ for Visa

LOS ANGELES Visa is moving into a post-Olympic sponsorship phase that reflects a different side of the brand’s new positioning campaign, said the company’s director of corporate relations.

One spot from Omnicom Group’s TBWA\Chiat\Day began running last week; another breaks today.

“It’s still the very early days [of the campaign], but response has been very favorable now that we’re starting to see the initial executions that talk about products and services,” said Michael Rolnick at Visa in San Francisco.

The spot that broke last week shows an animated worm or snake with sunglasses emerging from a hole to the beat of a boom box, forming Egyptian-art angles while dancing. The camera zooms out to show that the animation has been drawn in a checkbook being used by its owner as a “flip” book to create an animation effect.

Two title supers, in the same typeface of previous commercials in the campaign, read, “Life takes recycling. Life takes Visa.” A voiceover says, “Put your checkbook to better use,” and explains the advantages of using the Visa Check Card to pay bills electronically.

The spot breaking today for Visa’s small-business card is a roundelay starting with two entrepreneurs trying to figure out the solution to an unspecified problem, and wondering what the next largest company is doing. The spot moves to successively bigger companies and employee groups, each wondering what the larger competitor is doing. Finally the boss at the top company says to his board, “We’ve got to be more nimble. What would those guys at Hornstein do?” The spot cuts back to the two-man shop (Hornstein) solving the problem. “Business takes inspiration” is the theme title. The voiceover explains, “Visa makes any size business more efficient . . . Your business is your life. Life takes Visa.”

“People are now starting to see the campaign in action and the agency’s creative is really helping to showcase Visa’s products and services,” said Rolnick. “

“What you are seeing is that there is a deep vein to tap,” said Rob Schwartz, executive creative director at TBWA\C\D, Playa del Rey, Calif. “The campaign comes up with different ways to show how Visa can empower people.”

Schwartz described the dancing snake spot as “a good combination of clarity and poetry. It has a clear proposition: Checks are obsolete. And who would have thought you’d hear ‘worm,’ ‘Afrika Bambaataa’ and ‘Visa’ in the same sentence. But we found a way to do it.”

The second spot “tries to make the small business owner the hero in an unconventional way,” Schwartz said. “The insight here is the big business wondering what the little guy will do next. We give Visa the ownership of that.”

Schwartz said the campaign continues to have a “unified feel” despite using widely disparate directors because of the art direction’s life-like lighting and casting that has “an honesty about it.”

“The graphics and look of the spots are holding the campaign together,” Schwartz said. “It is the consistent mortar that allows us to spice up the bricks. The visual articulations can change because the strategy is always about empowerment.”

Campaign spending is undisclosed. Visa spent $335 million advertising in 2005, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.