INTERNATIONAL: Visa picks MMD for 11 CEE countries

BUDAPEST: MMD Public Relations has grown its communications work

for Visa International from five to 11 central and eastern European

(CEE) countries.

MMD won the remit - consisting of PR work in countries such as Bulgaria

and Kazakhstan - after a three-way competitive pitch that included


Industry sources estimate the brief to be worth substantial six-figure


MMD is tasked with tailoring Visa's international PR strategy to local

markets, brand positioning, and boosting the number of cardholders.

During the past three years MMD has grown its work for Visa on a

country-by-country basis.

MMD will manage the work from its offices in the Czech Republic,

Hungary, Slovakia and Romania. MMD country manager for the Czech

Republic Jan Simunek will run the account, reporting to Visa's

London-based external comms manager (CEE) Keith Lams.

MMD will use affiliates of Weber Shandwick Worldwide for work in the

other countries - Lativa, Estonia, Lithuania, Croatia, Ukraine, Bulgaria

and Kazakhstan.

Budapest-based MMD chief executive (CEE) Alistair McLeish cited

communications work on issues such as competition, regulation, systems

(such as chip cards) and partnering (for example, with banks) would be

central to MMD's remit.

MMD will no longer handle Visa's communications in Russia. The agency's

account director for Russia, Karina Grosheva, has quit and moved to an

in-house communications role for the credit card giant.

In the CEE region MMD also handles PR for firms such as Intel and Nokia,

in addition to pre- and post-privatisation corporate relations work.

CEE, the Middle East and Africa is Visa's fastest growing region. Since

1995, when Visa set up a CEMEA division, the number of cardholders in

the region has increased by 460 per cent, from five million to around 23


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