SAN FRANCISCO: Visa USA has selected Fleishman-Hillard as its new lead agency, a year and a half after selecting Golin/Harris for that account.
Golin will continue to work on unspecified projects for Visa USA, said Dan Tarman, the company's SVP of corporate relations.
"We conducted a thorough process that included the senior management team and the corporate-relations team," added Tarman. "And we felt Fleishman had the depth and breadth of experience, as well as the understanding of our business that we were looking for."
Tarman declined to comment on why Golin was dropped.
Fred Cook, president and CEO of Golin, said he was "proud of the work we have done for Visa, and proud of the team that has worked on the account. We are looking forward to continuing our work on important areas for Visa."
Cook said he didn't anticipate any "significant" staff cutbacks because of the account loss.
Golin won the business in November 2002, taking the account away from Ketchum after six years.
With offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and other cities working on the account, Cook described it at the time as "a huge win for Golin."
About two months after Golin won the business, Doug Michelman joined Visa USA as EVP of corporate relations, replacing Barie Carmichael, who had resigned in late November 2002, just after she had selected Golin.
Michelman came from Fleishman, where he was a senior partner and West Coast regional president.
This is not the only recent Visa PR firm change. In December, Visa International selected Burson-Marsteller as its corporate AOR after spending five years with GCI Group.
"I'm proud and excited about the opportunity to work on many fronts with Visa, which is known as a strong marketing powerhouse," said Kelly McGinnis, GM of Fleishman's San Francisco office.
While the San Francisco office will lead the account, offices in New York, Washington, DC, St. Louis, and other cities will offer a full network for Visa.
One of Visa's biggest marketing initiatives this year will be surrounding the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens. Visa launched the first phase of its marketing campaign in March, including a national consumer promotion, title sponsorship of the Visa American Cup gymnastics competition, and an Olympic-themed Super Bowl commercial.