In September 2000, Fleet Credit Card Services introduced “Fusion,” a new, technologically advanced, Visa-branded smart card. As one of three card issuers scheduled to launch a “smart” Visa card on the same day, Fleet’s launch objective was to maximize exposure for Fusion over competitors, position the card as first-to-market with superior technology, and secure eight million impressions.
As the launch date neared, Fleet learned a competitive issuer was planning to announce ahead of schedule, thwarting plans for a joint launch effort in conjunction with Visa.
Faced with the challenge of an accelerated timeframe, Fleet enlisted The Weber Group at the 11th hour to coordinate the Fusion launch. Starting with a briefing the Friday of Labor Day weekend, the team researched, prepared and launched the Fleet Fusion card in 12 days, with the bulk of PR activity conducted in 48 hours. Final launch plans were worked out in a lengthy weekend conference call on Sunday, September 10.
At The Weber Group’s recommendation, Fleet turned the tables on the competition by announcing Fusion on September 11 – a day ahead of other issuers – “scooping” the story and dominating day-one and subsequent coverage in national papers and key markets.
Fleet adopted an aggressive launch strategy promoting Fusion as the first and most technologically advanced smart Visa card. Project highlights include:
Development of a launch plan, providing for a variety of scenarios including launching in cooperation with Visa and other issuers, launching in reaction to a competitive issuer announcement and launching with a pre-emptive strike against competitors.
Development of all media materials including:
- Media pitch
- Press Release
- Media Advisory
- Internal Q&A
- Conference Call Script
Pre-announcement interviews conducted September 11 with USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and Boston Herald.
September 12 (launch day) coverage in:
- The Boston Globe
- The Boston Herald
- Los Angeles Times
- Philadelphia Inquirer
- The New York Times
- The Wall Street Journal
Maximized Fleet coverage with media and analyst conference calls, proactive pitching, and wire release of a news photo. Aggressive media outreach was also conducted to maximize Fleet exposure from a joint VNR issued by Visa.
To date, Fleet coverage has reached more than 631 million readers through print, online and wire service articles. Fleet has also received 13 mentions in television and radio coverage nationwide.
By announcing one day ahead of Visa and competitors, Fleet captured the lion's share of national smart card coverage, and secured exclusive first-day placements.
Without advertising, Fleet has issued more than 100,000 Fusion cards.
Aside from the tremendous media coverage, another big takeaway of the Fusion launch story is the larger issue of moving the product’s technology to the forefront. Though analysts and experts claim the use of smart cards is prevalent in Europe, the U.S. market has been slow to adopt them. Based on the enclosed coverage, we can assert that Fusion’s launch has marked the dawn of a new age in the smart card industry.