Phil Bilbrough: VISA’s Go Campaign On The Money

Column – Phil Bilbrough

Isn’t it great to see a new campaign? VISA’s GO campaign has made it to NZ with some added local flavour. It has been, and on TV.

VISA GO Trademe Online Example -

VISA GO Trademe Online Example -

Go VISA Campaign

Phil Bilbrough on Advertising

Isn’t it great to see a new campaign? VISA’s GO campaign has made it to NZ with some added local flavour. It has been, and on TV.

The global site is,, and that site connects to the user generated content site, and another that offers discounts,

The simple and brief call-to-action “GO” is uplifting in these “where is the light at the end of the tunnel?” times. It’s a relief to see something positive.

The New Zealand VISA GO TVC points you to, and the online executions click-through to a good looking VISA Trademe site, (a different website from the TVCs).

Trademe VISA GO campaign site

Trademe VISA GO campaign site

The VISA Trademe tie-in and their site, is cool, and it’s heaps more interesting than the global VISA GO sites. It features stats about Trademe purchase patterns and other Trademe unusual tidbits including a story about the auctioning of David Beckham’s left-over food (from a meal at a Wellington Nandos’ Chicken restaurant). Unusual? Yes. Kiwi-cringe? Definitely.

Some qualitative research from 2008 suggested that Trademe was a key brand for the recession. So the tie-in with Trademe looks a great strategy.

Yet as Jeremy Clarkson smugly says, “So you would think that I like this campaign? Well you would be wrong.” Overall the GO campaign ticks a lot of the successful campaign boxes, it just lacks originality, and those important components, emotion and spark. Isn’t that what any “GO” concept would need?

The VISA GO global websites are sophisticated and sterile white. They remind me of a hospital. The positive energy of GO is hygienically wiped from the white screens like an orderly cleaning a hospital floor. On the GO Explore site, each GO idea is displayed in a nurse’s ID card. Are they interesting sites? Yes. Are they compelling? Ah – no.

It’s as if the book of the VISA brand guidelines was used to pulverize the life out of the GO concept.

We don’t all live in Wellington, New Zealand, but for those of us who do – we are over “GO”. Or “GO” is all over us. It’s on all our buses and has been for a number of years. We see a lot of “GO Wellington” and a lot of Go call-to-actions; “Go to the Zoo”, “Go rollerblading”, “Go for coffee” – oh for GO sake.

VISA’s “GO” is so much like Nike’s “Just do it”. Maybe not an issue, yet Nike have been “just doing it” for some time and their “just do it” is about challenge and achievement in sport or fitness. VISA’s “GO” is very broad, just “Go and do… anything”. VISA’s “GO” could be renamed “Just buy something”. Buy David Beckham’s unfinished corn cob.

“GO” needs more emotion. The Wellington buses ditched emotion as well, but they are public transport. VISA could have injected some emotion into their “GO”, something like “Go get a rush of adrenalin”, or “Go feel better”, or as a precursor, “Look your self in the eye, go”.

Fair dos – the TVC has vibrancy and emotion. Then just like the sterile looking websites, the voice-over comes in and wipes the energy away. He sounds like my old headmaster. Clear succinct important – he is the guy who gets me through an exam – but not the guy who puts me on a plane to Egypt.

The GO/Trademe site looks great, and again, it’s down on excitement. And this is Trademe – online auctions are exciting. Could this site have included, in real time, three or four current auctions from Trademe? Perhaps only auctions that are concluding within 5 minutes are featured. Bidding on this waterblaster is at $25 and its going to finish in 3 minutes.

So points off for no excitement or originality (the Wellington Buses got there before you VISA), yet, VISA, you can have as many points as you want for timing. I’ll just tally those points now – and yes, oh boy, VISA wins.

Regardless of my criticisms, the VISA “Go” campaign has been executed well enough, it’s got a big budget, and its timing is perfect. Yes timing is everything. VISA’s competitors seem quiet (at least in above the line activity), there is a general hush from financial institutions, and people’s ears, eyes and thoughts are filled with bad economic news.

Consumers will be relieved and pleased to see a positive message. Not everyone is suffering out there. Those that have jobs may have more money in their pockets due to falling mortgage interest rates. A “GO” campaign may just be what’s required to relieve these people of the burden of worrying about the future, and get them spending again.

So what of my opinion? This campaign needs some spark to move “GO” from a couple of letters into an explosive concept. But this campaign is here, and good enough to be absolutely on the money.


Phil Bilbrough is an online advertising specialist who has recently begun blogging on the subject for Scoop at

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1 comment:

  1. regan, 26. March 2009, 17:01

    I think the big question is whether this GO campaign will be as successful as MasterCard’s campaign over the last 5 years or so. MasterCard hit on a winner and put clear water between themselves and Visa, and Visa’s last effort was appalling, forgettable, and badly executed. This is their big shot at catching up with MasterCard, and if other markets adapt it locally as well as Visa NZ, then I’d wager they have a fighting chance, not least as MasterCard’s tried and true format is getting a bit tired…


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