Visa Makes Olympics Sponsorship Count

Olympics sponsor Visa received one of the biggest consumer perception boosts as a result of its affiliation with the games, according to YouGov BrandIndex.

Visa, an Olympics mainstay, became the first sponsor to use paid search to drive visitors to its Tumblr account. The ads have been appearing on both Google and the Yahoo Bing Network. Visa’s current Morgan Freeman-narrated campaign “celebrates that incredible moment when an Olympic athlete knows they nailed their performance,” spotlighting several notable competitors and their preparation.

The financial services company was consistently included in Twitter’s daily “most-shared Olympic images.” Visa had 15 images featured, which accounted for more than 51,324 retweets and 75,452 favorites (and counting).

Olympics marketing is worth the investment of both time and money, according to Visa Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Burke.

“For more than 27 years, Visa has been a sponsor of the Olympic Movement and we find that the unwavering and growing appeal of the Olympic Games gives us a powerful platform to build integrated and best-in-class marketing campaigns for Visa and our clients,” Burke tells Marketing Daily. “The Olympic Games are a valuable investment for Visa, helping us generate widespread awareness for our brand promise and delivering benefits for our business around the world."

The Olympic Games provide a unique and globally unifying platform that demonstrates the universality of Visa’s brand promise, he says.

“For the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, we used that platform to launch and showcase our new brand repositioning, ‘Everywhere You Want to Be,’” he says. “(The campaign) ties together our proud history with the Olympic Games to the endless possibilities our brand brings for consumers, merchants, financial institutions, governments and others -- all over the world.”

Visa’s Olympic-themed creative campaign was optimized around the user experience and was aimed at inspiring fans around the world to connect to the games through the athletes and their inspiring achievements. In turn, fans recognize and feel inspired to achieve their own potential, he says.

The company created the Team Visa Mosaic following the gold medal performance of ice dancers, Meryl Davis (@Meryl_Davis) and Charlie White (@CharlieaWhite). The interactive mosaic was the company’s first socially led real-time congratulatory initiative inviting fans to participate in congratulating the duo on their gold-medal win.

Fans who participated in the congratulatory mosaic received a tweet from Visa showing their avatar within the image (which also included a digital autograph from Davis and White). Fans could also find and tag themselves, as well as upload their avatar to the mosaic by visiting

To complement the mosaic, Visa debuted a new congratulatory ad for Davis and White that aired immediately following their medal performance on NBC’s broadcast of the Sochi 2014 Games.

Visa pioneered real-time, congratulatory marketing around the Olympic Games when it first introduced a commercial during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games celebrating Michael Phelps’ win in the 200-meter butterfly, and has extended that tradition through Vancouver 2010, London 2012 and now Sochi 2014.

Not every marketer is willing to commit to the intensity of Olympics advertising, says YouGov BrandIndex CEO Ted Marzilli.

“This is truly a marathon in every sense of the word, not a short, intense sprint, like the Super Bowl,” he says. 

Compared to the male-dominated Super Bowl where the cleverest ad has to register with an audience of millions from one showing, the Olympics is two weeks long and much more gender-balanced.”

“Two weeks is a comparative eternity of glued-in watching compared to a one two-and-a-half hour football game,” Marzilli says. “Those two weeks of content and ads are delivered not just on broadcast television, but NBC's streaming digital platform too, so there are truly many opportunities to reach targeted audiences. There is plenty of room for advertisers -- as a matter of fact, there are probably just the right amount -- so that new executions can be tried at different points over the tournament and the ability to repeat ads over the long haul is totally do-able.”

Recommend (1) Print RSS