Saturday, March 04, 2006

MasterCard's® New Interactive 'Price-less' Ads ® (

Sometimes, you just get the perfect softball pitch that provokes a reply. - The Credit Card Interchange Report just saw this one coming in slow motion. The answer to the new "Write Your Own MasterCard Ad" is ... "Interchange."

In February, we drew attention to Visa's® sponsorship of the Winter Games by focusing on the question of why interchange rates were half the rate in Italy. Now, as Sunday's Oscars (R) gears up to celebrate the best in Hollywood cinema, the spotlight is on MasterCard. The second largest card issuer will broadcast two commercials.

The card issuer's campaign encourages viewers to visit MasterCard International's®® site to enter a contest. AdWeek® commented that "after 8-years of `priceless' moments" consumers will be able to fill in the blanks." This largely is what the Federal antitrust litigation against MasterCard® is about too. As lead plaintiff battling MasterCard® , we couldn't have produced a more direct and effective campaign to draw attention to interchange. Asking to fill in the blanks spotlights how the bank-owned card association illegally fix prices, forcing consumers and merchants to pay whatever rates they mandate. Ironically, the commercials ask consumers to identify the items that relate to various prices. Most people draw blanks when it comes to knowning what interchange fees are paid for each charge transaction.

Just think of those prices as hidden interchange fees which retailers and consumers have no choice but to pay due to the price-fixing, collusive bank practices.

The two MasterCard® spots will depart from the traditional identification of a product or service and the corresponding price. Instead, there will be a contest to identify the items that relate to various prices - the option of possibilities to choose from is endless.

Choosing which words will appear in the finished copy of a future ad is the contest; the winning selection will be broadcast later this year by MasterCard® . As more people become familiar with the $25 billion annual merchant interchange fees and hidden tax on consumers, the best answer to fill in the blank is ... "Interchange."

In a sharp departure from what MasterCard® must have thought was a creative advertisement, retailers who tune in on the Sunday awards show will immediately recognize that the unambiguous answer are the interchange fees, especially when the announcer says : "blank, blank, blank" because with nearly one-hundred interchange rate structures, the possibilities are endless.

Imagine if cardholders and retailers visited the website and selected as their contest entry the word "interchange." That would be a priceless message to MasterCard® .