Visa has launched its first major campaign in Japan since appointing a new marketing director last year. Developed by BBDO Japan, the work features the line ‘New Normal’ and aims to encourage people to use credit and debit cards for everyday purchases, which is still relatively uncommon in Japan.
A TVC featuring Daiya Seto, a bronze medal winner at the Rio Olympics, makes the point that ideas that start off as new evolve to become commonplace. Visa promises to create “tomorrow’s normal” by evolving the way people make payments in their daily lives. As an example, Seto buys a bottle of water using a payWave debit card.
The ‘New Normal’ branding is set to run until at least 2020, the year Tokyo will host the Olympic Games, of which Visa is a lead sponsor. Visa is trying to present itself as an innovation leader in Japan, and last year hired Takafumi Kashiwagi from Google to lead its marketing efforts in the country.
In an interview last year, Kashiwagi talked about the potential to use emerging technology such as voice assistants and the connected car. The immediate aim, though, is to convince people that cards have advantages over cash.
Campaign’s view: It might seem odd to present the humble debit card as a piece of breakthrough innovation, but it’s somewhat understandable in a market where people (according to Kashiwagi) hesitate to use cards for fear of appearing poor. Let's be honest: this is not the most thrilling way to feature an Olympic athlete, but perhaps thrilling is not the objective at this stage. The ad gets the message across clearly, and using a popular athlete certainly doesn’t hurt. It will be interesting to see how Visa builds on its message over time, and whether it’s able to bring about the cultural shift it’s aiming for.