Visa's current ad campaign, Life Takes Visa, is visually interesting, sometimes silly and usually clever.
Its newest TV component, "Transactional Fluidity," takes a swipe at cash, which strikes me as an atypical target for an attack ad. The 60-second spot is a highly choreographed play in a deli, where everything works like clockwork, including the Visa-swiping customers. That is, until one person pays with cash, throwing the finely tuned dance into disarray.
Besides villifying cash, the ad suggests to me that if you really want to be just like everybody else, you should use a Visa card.
Only weirdos and iconoclasts use cash, eh? Well, I'm ever in the deli in the Visa ad, I'm paying with pennies.
Visa says that what its new campaign "is really about are the people who stand up to life’s challenges, laugh at its jokes, savor its sweetness and continue down its unpredictable path."
I'm not sure how that statement fits with making an enemy out of cash, which the ad protrays as severely uncool. But the ad does fit with somebody else's agenda.
Earlier this year, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson claimed that the "cash economy" is the No. 3 problem facing the American taxpayer. As I wrote in January, Olson alleges that the failure of taxpayers to report income from the cash economy costs the nation $100 billion or more each year, which she says translates to about $2,000 per taxpayer.
I'm not saying Visa and the IRS are in cahoots, but I'm pretty sure that if using cash makes both of them mad, I'm happy to slap down the dollar bills.