Targeting English-speaking travelers worldwide, Visa International on Monday began televising its first global advertisement.
The 30-second spot highlights the utility of Visa's Plus International automated teller network.
In the ad, a Visa cardholder running late for a speech to a group of executives in Hong Kong finds himself without local currency to pay the taxi fare. "How much?" he asks the driver, who says, "75."
"Lire?" the traveler asks. "No lire," the driver responds. "Francs?" gets a similar response. "No francs. This is Hong Kong!"
The harried executive says, "Stop here,': when he sees an automated teller machine displaying the Visa/Plus logo. As the cab driver yells after him, the traveler pops his Visa card into the ATM, which dispenses local currency. Then he pays his fare.
The final scene shows him arriving at a global economic forum, just as the announcer finishes his introduction.
A voice-over reads Visa's new tag line "Visa. The best way in the world to travel."
"The concept is to position Visa as an essential component of travel," said John Bennett, a senior vice president at the card association. As travelers pack for a trip, he said, they should grab their Visa when they look for their passports.
The Visa/Plus ad was created and produced by BBDO Worldwide, the New York-based agency Visa has used for its U.S. advertisements.
While the first features Visa and Plus, other ads will focus on Visa, he said, adding that subsequent ads will execute the same concept. Umbrella for Regional Efforts
"This doesn't replace anything done within our regions," Mr. Bennett said. Visa's international campaign will act as an umbrella to regional efforts, he added.
Regional offices have the option of replacing the international tag line with their own, he said.
On International Gable
In America, for example, that tag line has been "Visa. It's everywhere you want to be." For the past year, the Asia Pacific region has used "Visa. The World's Most Preferred Card."
The first ad, called "Symposium," will air during the next two months on a number of international cable networks - including CNN, Star TV, and the NBC Super Channel - which collectively reach 220 million households worldwide. 'The commercial will be shown during programming that reaches the target audience - including news, sporting events such as the French Open and Wimbledon tennis tournaments, and financial and travel programs.
"We're really looking at people who are likely to travel," Mr. Bennett said, "reaching people in their homes," and travelers watching CNN in their hotel rooms.
"We didn't want to export any particular regional campaign efforts," Mr. Bennett said. "We use a different tag line, a different voice-over, to distinguish this campaign from any region's efforts. We intended to make it a clearly international, interregional campaign."