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Credit-Worthy : South Coast Plaza 1 of 8 Retail Meccas to Take Part in Visa Ads

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

They are the most renowned shopping destinations in the nation: Madison Avenue, Rodeo Drive, Palm Beach and . . . Costa Mesa?

You bet, Costa Mesa--home to South Coast Plaza, one of the most successful shopping malls in the United States. Starting next month, the retail center will be one of eight shopping meccas featured in a new national advertising campaign by Visa USA.

The campaign, targeting holders of Visa Gold credit cards, will include incentives to shop at certain stores and restaurants in the selected areas. South Coast Plaza was included among the elite retail areas to participate in the marketing splash because the mall “has become literally a who’s who of the best retailers,” according to a news release from the shopping center.

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South Coast Plaza was also chosen because of its high level of tourist traffic, said Werner Escher, the mall’s executive director of domestic and international markets. About one-third of the nearly $1 billion in annual sales at the shopping center are to visitors from outside the area, he said.

The advertising blitz will include mailings to 8 million cardholders, as well as billboards, in-store displays and ads in such publications as Vogue, Architectural Digest, GQ, Gourmet and Bon Appetit.

Visa Gold cardholders will receive “passports” that can be used to obtain discounts and free merchandise at about 50 upscale South Coast Plaza retailers, including Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Coach and Versace. Participating restaurants include Antonello Ristorante, Back Bay Rowing & Running Club, Gustaf Anders and Planet Hollywood.

Other featured shopping areas in the Visa campaign include Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, Union Square in San Francisco, Peachtree Street in Atlanta and Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Row.

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