VISA’s Celebrity Ads

September 24, 2007 Blog 6 comments


Celebrity endorsement in advertising (and sometimes PR) is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Since time immemorial, companies have relied on the household recognition, reach and popularity of movie stars, singers, TV actors and sport heroes to gain mileage in the marketing game.

Of all the celebrity commercials out there, the most memorable in my opinion belong to VISA. Few companies have managed to do it with as much style, panache and class as the world’s largest payment processor. And I have seen plenty of poorly conceived celebrity ads in my lifetime, especially those slimming ones by whats-its-name beauty parlour.
What strikes me most in VISA’s effective use of stars is how they are always portrayed in character, yet with clear visual clues that it is the VISA credit card which “saves the day”. Of course, the brilliant cinematography (many of their ads are shot on film), authentic sets and clever acting also helps to move viewers. After all, advertising is all about making an emotional connection.

The most recent example is of course Jackie Chan, whose appearance is linked to VISA sponsoring the upcoming Beijing Olympics in 2008. Here is a television/ movie commercial featuring the world’s most famous kung fu star together with Yao Ming, who is probably the most bankrolled Chinese sports star.

Another memorable one is this playful ditty featuring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond as well as Zhang Ziyi, with a tuk tuk rider from hell.

My personal favourite is probably this one featuring Richard Gere in India. It has a nice moral ring to it while being true to Richard Gere’s own philanthropic nature.

Have you seen a good celebrity commercial lately?

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. agreed! Visa does it well!

    i like ads without celebrities. say Heineken and Carlsberg. + Fed-Ex. Samsung’s trying very hard, but not quite there yet.

    do johnnie walker ads with its golfers count as pretty okay commercial.

  2. I like the Richard Gere one tho, quite a ‘feel good’ commercial to add to the celebrity ads.

    Tho I did hear of some negative feedbacks on it but..hey!!..its just a commercial…

  3. Seen an nice ads? I think the recent series of Mocca ads were quite funny and very memorable! Even my 16-mth-old baby now goes “There! There!”, after the bodybuilder selling his house…

  4. imp,

    Glad that you agree. I think the best ads not only convey a marketing message but also entertain and engage. Too few companies pay attention to this, probably a result of inadequate marketing budgets and the ever growing pressure of the bottom line.

  5. jason,

    Yeah I know that Richard Gere does have fans and detractors alike. Some may also say that certain ads have a stereotypical quality. For example, where Zhang Ziyi does a martial arts thingy and goes around kicking, punching and flying in a restaurant (Chinese = martial arts experts). Well, I take such things with a pinch of salt personally as long as the cultural references are not overdone.

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