Visa reviews $400m global media

LONDON - Visa is reviewing its estimated $400 million global media planning and buying business with the intention of consolidating into one network.

Incumbent networks OMD and Mediaedge:cia will compete for the business but it is unclear if rival networks will be invited to join the process.

OMD handles Visa's business in North America, which accounts for the vast bulk of Visa's global spend. It also handles the account in Asia while Mediaedge:cia is responsible for the Visa Europe business, including the £5 million UK account.

John Elkins, the executive vice president, global brand, marketing and corporate communications at Visa International, is said to be leading the process.

Visa has previously run a complicated corporate structure with Visa USA, Visa Canada, Visa Europe and Visa International all operating separately. However, it is in the process of simplifying this by creating one global corporation called Visa Inc. Some complication will remain because Visa Europe will remain a membership association controlled by European member banks.

However, the changes have encouraged Visa to explore the benefits of media consolidation. It said when it announced the restructure last October that it would "combine the efficiencies of global scale with the recognition of Europe's unique business and economic environment."

Visa's creative agency arrangements are thought to be unaffected by the media review process.

Saatchi & Saatchi handles work across Europe while TBWA\Chiat\Day is the incumbent in the US.

Its European advertising has focused on the theme of "love every day" in an attempt to persuade consumers to use their cards for everyday items and indulgences.

In addition to making greater use of online and print advertising, Visa remains committed to its Olympic sponsorship programme and its spend is expected to increase in 2008 to coincide with the Olympics in China.

Elkins was unavailable for comment.