Credit card giant Visa is launching an ambitious $25m (€19.6, £13.4m) ad campaign to wean less sophisticated shoppers off cash and on to plastic.

The company is trying to persuade consumers in the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe to change the habits of several lifetimes and to follow the US model by ditching currency and paying for staple goods such as food and fuel with a credit or debit card.

Says Keith Lams, head of external communications for this region of Visa International: "The vast majority of people don't have a relationship with banks or the banking system. We want to evolve our message."

The ad campaign, to appear on TV, radio, in print and on outdoor sites, has been created by Grey London and executed by Grey Global's agencies in Dubai, the UAE, Moscow, Bucharest and Johannesburg.

Visa spent $133.5 million on US advertising in the first six months of this year and $359.2 million throughout 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff