Two news spots in MasterCard International's quirky, six-month-old "Smart Money" advertising campaign in the airwaves this week.
One 30-second spot, "Super Dad," promotes MasterCard's wide acceptance with its standard card. A second spot, "Celebrity," introduces MasterGuest, a new service for holders of Gold MasterCard.
The new ads enter a rotation of seven total "Smart Money" television spots and will run through June 1994. MasterCard is continuing its print campaign for Gold MasterCard with ads in consumer publications aimed at households with incomes of $50,000 and higher. Print ads in trade publications round out the campaign.
The "Celebrity" spot promotes a new program that entitles holders of Gold MasterCard to a 30% discount on certain travel packages.
All Gold MasterCard holders are automatically enrolled in the MasterGuest Vacation Planning Services program at no additional fee. Cardholders call a toll-free number to arrange travel with a MasterGuest consultant.
James Desroiser, vice president for advertising at MasterCard, described the spot as "tongue in cheek." It shows a weary businesswoman checking into a hotel, transformed into a "celebrity" surrounded by photographers at the hotel pool. As the commercial ends, a voice-over says, "It's more than a gold card, it's smart money."
The "Super Dad" spot, in a comic book style, shows a father in his mid-30s using his MasterCard to withdraw money from an automated teller machine, to pay for a hospital visit and to buy toys.
After a series of unsuccessful campaigns, "Smart Money," created by Ammirati & Puris of New York, has given a boost to the the MasterCard brand. "We've seen top-of-mind awareness raised significantly," Mr. Desrosier said.
In November, MasterCard launches a major push of its Maestro debit card in business publications. Though the ads will not be in the same vein as "Smart Money," Mr. Desrosier said the campaign "will feel like it's coming from MasterCard."
MasterCard will kick off its World Cup soccer advertising in the first quarter of 1994, integrating its worldwide sponsorship with the "Smart Money" theme.
The new ads come at a time of heightened competition among card issuers. MasterCard posted a 22.2% increase in U.S. charge volume in the first half to $61 billion, pushing its market share among the general purpose cards up nearly two points to 28%.
Visa U.S.A.'s volume jumped 15% to $95 billion, but it failed to gain a bigger slice of the market.
To keep the heat on Visa, American Express Travel Related Services, and others, MasterCard will increase advertising spending 7.8% to $69 million. Visa reportedly will hike ad spending 25% to $100 million.
Mr. Desrosier said MasterCard's strategy "is to remain effectively competitive without getting sucked into the escalating spiral of endless competitive spending."