Great work Visa, now I HATE you
Last week I jumped to London to watch the Olympics. Being a huge sports fan the experience was amazing, but there was one thing that drove me crazy.
The London Olympics has several sponsors, most prominently Coca Cola, McDonalds, Visa, Samsung and Acer (when I say “prominently” I mean their effects are felt everywhere through the games).
Before I flew, I discovered that McDonalds’ terms of sponsoring included that no one else in the areas of the games is allowed to sell french fries, unless they come with fried fish (because the classic dish of Fish & Chips could not be banned in the UK). But besides the Fish & Chips exception, no one is allowed to sell french fries around the games. Which pissed me off.
But that didn’t even come close to what Visa did.
Those folks up there at Visa sponsored the Olympics under the limitation that no other credit card could be used to purchase stuff in the Olympics, from a cup of coffee to an official hoodie. If you’ve never been to such an event it’s hard to imagine how huge the venues are, and once you entered a stadium in the morning, you’re not allowed to exit and return with your ticket. Which practically means that once you’re inside, you can either use Visa or cash, that’s it.
And that REALLY pissed me off. As a consumer, I was abused and insulted. On the practical level, I hold both a MasterCard and a Visa, and the terms I get when using my MasterCard in Europe are better than my Visa (in the USA it’s the other way around). But losing a few pennies was not what pissed me off. It was that a major consumer brand chose to abuse simple folks as a way of marketing. And that’s just stupid. Getting a credit card is not something you do in a minute, certainly not in a foreign country. So Visa couldn’t really expect international visitors holding other cards to actually switch to Visa on the spot, right?
What did they expect them to feel? “Oh my gosh, Visa is so awesome, I wish I had a Visa card, when I return home I’m going to get one ASAP”? No!
More probably, like myself, they would say “Why would those assholes do such a thing? They already have their logo smeared all over the place, what did I do wrong to be banned from using my credit card in the largest touristic event in London in the past decade?”
The marketers at Visa are probably more experienced than me, but I still want to give them a small marketing lesson:
If you want people to like you, give them something. If you want people to hate you, take something away from them.
I understand that maybe this campaign was aimed solely at UK residents to switch to Visa, but I still find that abusive.
So what could Visa do? Again I’m not an expert on credit card marketing, but if you follow the bold sentence above, Visa could just appeal to Visa owners by giving them something. A discount for using Visa. A special gift for buying with Visa above some amount. Whatever. As long as you’re giving something to your customers, and not taking away something from those who aren’t.
So great work Visa, now I HATE you.
[I spend my days and nights working at the tech startup Soluto, trying to help people enjoy their PCs. Have you tried it yet?]
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