Mastercard to build UK profile via Euro 96 drive

Mastercard International launches its Euro 96 advertising campaign this week with a national poster campaign and a TV advertisement which breaks next week.

The news comes after talks between the US-based payment system and UK banks to buy the Access brand bogged down (MW April 19).

The TV campaign, through Publicis, is understood to have no references to football. According to a source close to Mastercard, it includes an English couple “virtually” visiting different places in the world to find that Mastercard is accepted everywhere. The ads, which feature the same strapline as the previous campaign, “Every language speaks Mastercard”, are due for final approval on Thursday.

According to sources close to negotiations, the deal to buy the Access brand from the banks has stalled because of arguments over whether the banks will be able to promote their own credit cards independently. “The banks want the freedom to fight Barclaycard, which Visa has allowed to promote itself,” he says, “but Mastercard is saying, ‘what are we paying for then?’.”

Although an agreement in principle has been signed, it is understood the brand’s price is now about 20m. The arguments centre on the terms on which banks will be able to promote their own cards. Previously, all Access member banks promoted cards through the Access brand.

In an interview with Marketing Week, Mastercard International executive vice-president of global marketing, Joe Tripodi, says: “We have not done a very good job of selling Mastercard in the UK; we have been subordinate to Access. There needs to be clarity at the point of sale. There will be a tendency, over the next decade, to see a clear rationalisation of brands at point of sale.

“We are a global organisation and need a stronger awareness in the UK. We don’t need to do brand building in the US. We do need to here.”

He says that the proposition of the Mastercard brand will change over time to one that focuses on secure access. “We want to create a halo effect that helps our member banks make money,” he says.

According to Tripodi, Mastercard will not promote the Maestro direct debit system in the UK because of the strength of Switch in the market. “It would cause too much consumer confusion,” he says.

However, he did say that the Cirrus ATM feature (which enables credit and debit cards to draw foreign currency) will be promoted in the future. The decision is believed to have been influenced by the refusal of several French banks and the Post Office to take Eurocheques.

On stored value cards (which are designed to replace small change), he says that Mastercard intends to launch into the market. The vast majority of the 355 billion transactions in the US last year were under 10. “This is clearly a market we would like to get into,” he says.

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