Visa Reviews Global Media

NEW YORK Visa has confirmed launching a review designed to consolidate its global media planning and buying chores at a single shop or holding company.

Visa said four holding companies have been invited to pitch. They are: Omnicom Group, WPP Group, Publicis Groupe and Aegis Group.

Omnicom’s OMD handles Visa in the U.S., Asia-Pacific, China and India, while WPP’s Mediaedge:cia handles the client’s European media and sponsorship chores. Publicis’ Starcom works for Visa in Canada and most Latin-American markets. Aegis is not on the client’s roster.

Visa’s annual global media spending is estimated at $650 million, per sources. A client representative declined to discuss budget levels. Visa spent $440 million in 2006 U.S. measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. For the first six months of this year, U.S spending totaled $170 million, per Nielsen.

“Visa has made a decision to evaluate global consolidation of media buying in order to more effectively manage advertising spend globally and to simplify agency relationships,” Visa said in a statement. “This effort does not include evaluation of creative agencies, which remain regional and locally focused.”

The client has hired EMM Group, a marketing management firm in London, to help guide the review, with an eye toward placing the entire business with one shop or holding company. John Elkins, Visa’s San Francisco-based evp, global brand marketing, Visa International is overseeing the process.

Visa said it expects the review to conclude by year’s end.

Visa is the second major company to call a media-consolidation review this week, following AT&T’s decision yesterday to do so on its estimated $2.3 billion account.