Monday, October 29, 2007

Visa's® 'Anti-Gay' TV Commercial Is Offensive On Many Levels (

Click here to view the YouTube-linked commercial.

Click here for an overview of the spot.

Click here to view other "Life Takes Visa®" spots.

Click here to read how Visa describes it in their online press release.

There are a series of similar Visa USA ads which depict the mental damage inflicted when consumers pay with paper rather than plastic. One spot shows a man buying a donut with cash, while a line of hungry people flash that same stymied look that an overwhelmed mom gives her kids when they start shouting in a supermarket. The message is "Life Takes Visa," but the reality is that if the donut shop is anything like the one next door to our Irvine, CA retail location, the owner is paying a hefty price when people use a credit card - especially a signature affinity card that come with even higher merchant rates. The fact is, with minimum payments, that donut shop owner may have just paid out more in interchange fees than the cost of the donut.

According to Mitch Goldstone, president and CEO of and 30 Minute Photos Etc., "the Visa's® gang of advertising handlers presented inflammatory, anti-gay stereotypes in it's new kick-off to the 2007 NFL season with its 'When the Saints Go Marching In' TV commercial." Goldstone, who along with his partner, Carl Berman, are also the lead plaintiff's in the multi-billion dollar merchant interchange antitrust litigation and explained that another worrisome image from the commercial that also impacts all retailers is the new message that cash is bad.

The TV ad, airing during football games depicts how easy and fun it is to use your Visa payment cards to buy products, but when a preppy-looking man, in a pink shirt and sweater delicately wrapped around his neck becomes the standout, lone customer using cash, everything stops. It doesn't show how frustrated clerks get when the electronic payment network is slow or when the magnetic strip on the back of a credit card is worn, and thus requiring manual account number entry, which is one of the nearly one-hundred separate and higher interchange fees imposed on retailers.

In the TV spot, the cash-paying customer became the protagonist and tool for Visa's latest attempt to train consumers to use payment cards, rather than cash. The message is: if you dare to use cash, you will make everyone angry and turn against you. A clearer message to Visa and MasterCard is from us, your customers: Interchange fees are a $40 billion annual hidden tax on retailers, consumers and our economy and those abroad.

We are not the first to note how damaging this ad is.

Here are a few postings on the YouTube site:


" Nothing great, or even good, about this ad"

" [I]sn't it typically the other way around...takes longer waiting for a fool to pay with a credit card than cash.dumb commerical"

[commentary,, via You Tube-linked Visa commercial]