NEWS: Mastercard to call UK agency review

Mastercard has followed its takeover of Access by calling a review of its pounds 6 million UK advertising business.

Mastercard has followed its takeover of Access by calling a review of

its pounds 6 million UK advertising business.

Publicis and its media dependant, Optimedia, which handle Mastercard and

Access, are expected to have to fend off challenges from up to three

other agencies for the merged account.

Secrecy surrounds the Mastercard initiative and executives of the US-

based company were this week saying little about their intentions.

‘It’s very confidential,’ one said. ‘But it’s true that we are looking

at our options in the light of changes that are taking place within the

credit-card market.’

Industry sources say that the new board, put in place after the merger,

leaves Mastercard technically without an agency and that Mastercard

chiefs are using the opportunity to look at other shops.

The review coincides with an internal debate about what should happen in

the wake of the absorption of Access into Mastercard and the phasing out

of the Access name.

Access, famous for its long-running ‘flexible friend’ advertising, was

sold this summer to Mastercard by its joint owners, Lloyds, Midland,

NatWest and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The banks have already been reducing the size of the Access logo on

their cards and Mastercard sees a conflict between its own global

ambitions and a separately branded UK product, albeit a well-known one.

Publicis has handled the Access account since January 1994, when it

parted company with GGT to renew its relationship with Rick Bendel, the

Publicis joint chief executive. Bendel’s links with the brand go back to

the early 80s at Geers Gross.

Ten months later, the agency followed up with the capture of the

Mastercard business and a brief to raise its relatively low consumer

awareness levels in the UK.

The appointment led to Mastercard’s first attempt at corporate branding

in the UK, with a series of commercials featuring characters from all

over the world speaking in their native languages, the only

comprehensible word being ‘Mastercard’.

In May a new commercial was introduced in which a couple use their

Mastercards to buy food for unexpected dinner guests.

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