Visa Sets Up NFL Showdown

Visa USA has launched what it calls a “grand experiment in integrated marketing,” inviting three shops to pitch a wide-ranging assignment supporting its sponsorship of the National Football League. The move comes as Visa also plans to revamp the ad strategy on its check card business.
The shops in the NFL shootout are CKS Partners and Highway One, both in San Francisco, and BBDO Worldwide in New York, confirmed Becky Saeger, Visa’s executive vice president of brand marketing.
BBDO is Visa’s lead creative shop and media buyer. Highway One handles promotions. CKS handles interactive marketing. McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., which is owned by CKS Group, is aiding CKS in the pitch.
Visa, which will pick a winner next month, is challenging the shops to develop the best “idea” to promote Visa’s NFL presence.
The victor could end up with everything from general ads to promotions on the creative-only assignment, allowing Visa to work with one shop. The client could stick with the current approach of using all three shops, Saeger said. The contenders declined comment.
Separately, Michael Beindorff, executive vice president of marketing, confirmed Visa is considering a new creative strategy for its check card business, which accounted for nearly $50 million of Visa’s total $250 million ad budget in 1997. “We think there’s an opportunity
to drive better usage of the product,” he said.
BBDO plans to move from its current celebrity-driven campaign to one focused more on merchants, sources said. The tagline would remain “It’s everywhere you want to be.”