SAN FRANCISCO: Visa USA has selected Golin/Harris International as its new agency of record, severing its ties with longstanding AOR Ketchum.
A company-wide team from Golin participated in the pitch, and multiple offices will handle the job, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and LA. Golin's relationship with Visa USA begins immediately.
"It's a huge win for Golin," said Golin president and CCO Fred Cook.
"It's a terrific brand, and a great fit for the agency in terms of our capabilities, experience, and chemistry. It's a great cultural fit."
Visa's search began in the spring, with Golin and incumbent Ketchum among the several contenders.
The process took several months because of "a very strong pool of candidates," said Barie Carmichael, Visa USA's EVP of corporate relations. "We took our time to select the one that was the best match for us."
"We picked Golin for three reasons," she added. "They had a very strong understanding of the payments industry, they brought solutions based on deep research and data, and they offered a really strong team."
Communications is vitally important to Visa USA, said Carmichael, pointing out that CEO Carl Pascarella and other executives were also part of the decision-making team.
As for how Visa USA will use its new relationship with Golin, it will focus on developing a "greater share of the way people pay for things," said Carmichael. "Visa is a payments leader. And our major competitors are cash and checks. This is a highly competitive environment. We want to be the best way to pay and to be paid. My mission is to advance that goal through the value-add of communications."
Golin's work will entail a broad scope, said Cook, including further establishing Visa USA as a thought leader, developing its brand and addressing payment-industry issues.
Visa USA has worked with Ketchum for the past six years. Despite the size of the account, Ketchum CEO Ray Kotcher said he anticipated very minimal impact from losing the business.
"Obviously, this isn't what we wanted to hear. But we were planning in the eventuality of something like this happening. We didn't have (Visa USA) factored into our 2003 plan. So the impact should be quite minimal.
"I really am extremely proud of the relationship with Visa," Kotcher added. "I am particularly proud of our people. They took the work to a whole new level. They've done some of the best work this agency has turned out. We wish Visa well. And things here at Ketchum will continue to move along well."