Fashion Santa returns to explain Visa Debit

Who: Visa, with Publicis for strategy and creative, Ad hoc Content for production (directed by Peter Martin), editing by Saints, audio by Grayson Matthews, and media by Starcom.

What: “Get the Goods,” a new ad campaign reminding Visa customers that they can use their Visa Debit card to shop online the same way they use their credit card.

When & Where: There’s a holiday-themed TV spot with a familiar face from Christmases past running from Nov. 14 to Dec. 24, supported by out-of-home and digital / social. A second ad is intended to run past the holiday season.

Why: According to Publicis, many Canadians prefer to make purchases using their debit card, rather than a credit card. However, they often don’t realize they can use their Visa Debit to make purchases online with money taken directly from their bank account.

“While consumers were actively using Visa Debit for retail purchases, they were not aware they could use it online,” said Tracey Tobin, SVP client lead at Publicis Toronto. The brief for the agency was to change that thinking and educate consumers about the ability to use their Visa Debit online.

“The biggest challenge Publicis faced on this assignment was to create news out of something that has been around for quite some time,” said Tobin. “Most people have Visa Debit in their wallets, they just don’t know it.”

How: Both ads feature a woman about to make an online purchase, when a model on the site comes to life and reminds them of the benefits of buying with Visa Debit. The holiday ad features the original Fashion Santa, the character made famous by model Paul Mason.

Fashion Santa first went viral in 2015, when he was featured in a campaign for Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Mason and Yorkdale would later go to court over the rights to the Fashion Santa character, a fight won by Mason in late 2017. While it’s been seven years since Fashion Santa rose to fame, he still has the familiar white hair, bushy white Santa-esque beard, red velvet suit, and cheekbones that could cut a person if they weren’t careful.

The other spot features well-known drag artists Ivory Towers and Barbada similarly coming to life to talk the shopper into using Visa Debit.

Publicis wanted the campaign to be fun and memorable, with creative shaped by the insight that many consumers default to using a credit card when shopping online.

“We also leveraged a key behavioural insight, that it’s at the point of purchase when people choose their payment method,” said Tobin. “It’s not always a pre-determined choice. Consumers will default to an existing pattern (paying by credit card) unless you can disrupt that behaviour at the moment of purchase.”

And we quote: “Because this was an educational brief, it was important that our idea be fun and memorable. So we brought a website to life and used iconic spokespeople to communicate our message right at the moment of online checkout.” — Joanna Monteiro, chief creative officer, Publicis Toronto

David Brown