Visa U.S.A., entering the rock arena for the second time, announced Friday that Visa Gold will sponsor Elton John's 1995 North American Tour.

The 24-city tour, "Made In England for the U.S.A.," will feature the Visa Gold logo on tickets and stadium signage. Print and broadcast advertisements featuring the flamboyant British rock star will air from July through September.

Concert tickets will be reserved for Visa gold cardholders, who will be able to call an 800 number for purchase.

"We're looking at this as one several events and sponsorships in order to target the continued growth of gold," said Carl F. Pascarella, Visa U.S.A.'s president and chief executive. "Being able to tie up with Elton John should be of high value to membership in terms of profitability."

Visa, which sponsored Paul McCartney's tour in 1989 and 1990, is the official sponsor of the 1996 Olympics and the National Football League "outdistancing all our competitors, including American Express," said Mr. Pascarella. "We want to be monolithic in the overall event-marketing area."

Promoting gold "will solidify the relationship banks have with gold card customers," he said, "one of the most profitable segments of card business for banks."

There are 59 million Visa gold cards in circulation, a 40% increase over last year's first quarter. Visa gold cardholders spent $50 billion, a 50% increase over the same period last year, Visa said.

Elton John, whose career has spanned two decades, appeals to a broad demographic range, said Mr. Pascarella. He pointed out that this year the seasoned performer won an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Golden Globe award for the sound track to Walt Disney's movie, "The Lion King."

Mr. Pascarella added: "We're very pleased to have someone of his caliber associated with Visa."

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