MasterCard International has unveiled a new brand tag line for its on-line debit product, Maestro.

The slogan "Your Money, Wherever You Are" is meant to increase consumer awareness of how and where the four-year-old Maestro product can be used.

"People know Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, but they are not familiar with Maestro," said Francis van den Bosch, chief executive officer of Maestro International, in an interview at the fourth annual Europay International meeting here.

"You don't get brand familiarity by sticking an icon on a merchant terminal," he said.

MasterCard is planning a multipronged strategy, involving cardholder inserts and billing statement communications, as well as television advertising in Italy, Spain, Germany, Mexico, and Taiwan, Mr. van den Bosch said. The commercials in Mexico will begin in two weeks, and commercials in the other countries will air this year.

The launching of this marketing strategy coincided with the Europay meeting, in part, because Maestro is most popular in Europe, where 60% of the 2.6 million merchants that accept Maestro are located.

By contrast, more than 12 million merchants accept the MasterCard brand. Maestro has a very small base in the United States, where it is accepted at places that carry the Cirrus logo.

But MasterCard says Maestro's prospects will soon improve.

"Based on current growth trends, the number of Maestro debit cards will surpass the number of MasterCard credit cards in less than three years," said Robert Selander, president and chief executive of MasterCard International, in a speech.

He predicted that by 2005, "debit will account for the single largest number of payment card transactions worldwide."

In its marketing material, MasterCard compares its Maestro brand strategy to other major companies' promotions. For example, computer manufacturers frequently carry the "Intel" logo on the front of their computers and in their advertising, and soft drink brands feature the Nutrasweet logo on their cans to add value to their products.

MasterCard claims that banks can use this same practice in their card marketing plans. "Maestro not only fulfills a consumer need, but also adds value to a bank's own brand through 'ingredient branding,'" states the promotional material that will be distributed to MasterCard's member banks in coming weeks.

More than 215 million Maestro cards are in circulation worldwide, with more than 117 million in Europe alone. MasterCard claims to have 70% of the debit card market share worldwide.

The new Maestro tag line is "the cornerstone for making Maestro into one of the most important brands in the world," said Paul Ribourdouille, chairman of Maestro International, in a speech.

The tag line, developed by a Dutch marketing executive, Stan Rapp, has been translated into seven languages so far. It appears in a rectangular box to the left of the Maestro logo, in the interlocking circles that signify the MasterCard brand.

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