Banks halt Euro 96 Mastercard ad blitz

UK banks are believed to have pulled the plug on funding for Mastercard’s generic UK advertising campaign in the run-up to its sponsorship of the Euro ’96 football championships.

They are also understood to be resisting pressure from rival card issuer Visa to run a generic campaign in the UK to fight Mastercard (MW July 25 1995).

The banks are refusing to put any more money behind the 3.5m Mastercard ad campaign, devised by Publicis, which began in December 1994. Mastercard attempted to secure a second round of funding last summer for a pre-Christmas push, worth about 5m (MW October 20 1995).

Meanwhile, a Visa spokesman says the company raised the issue of a generic branding campaign with the banks last spring, but the idea was rejected. The organisation’s agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, is understood to have been briefed on a campaign.

A bank source says that the issue has been raised on Visa’s board level but rejected by the banks. “Why should we pay money for a branding campaign that would help GM and all the other non-bank cards?”

Visa already runs a generic ad campaign across the rest of Europe, partly funded by UK banks, but will not pay for a UK campaign.

Visa, which is sponsoring the Atlanta Olympics this year, will seek to overshadow Mastercard’s sponsorship of Euro ’96 with a campaign for its debit card, Visa Delta, in May. It is also understood to be planning a campaign for its bank debit facility, Electron, which is now available on Barclay’s Bank cards.

Visa International president and chief executive of the EU region, Johannes Van der Velde, is reviewing European marketing and management structures, including the UK. He is understood to be debating the replacement of Visa UK md John Hutchinson, who left before Christmas to join the Performing Rights Society.

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