financial services

Visa Heads Into World Cup Fray

With the World Cup kicking off today in Brazil, the entire world will be focused on football (or soccer, to those in America), and Visa is looking to be right in the middle of the action. 

The credit card company and FIFA partner is launching a massive marketing effort to coincide with the tournament, showing off how people can be both rivals cheering for opposing teams, and united around the sport in general. 

“It’s going to be our biggest digital and social program and activation ever,” Kevin Burke, global chief marketing officer for Visa, tells Marketing Daily. “One of the reasons we love the World Cup so much is because it’s very much within the [personality] and scope of our brand.”

The entire effort, which includes television, print, digital, social, mobile and local tournament elements, is centered on the belief that the World Cup is the place soccer fans want to be, and Visa can help them get there, Burke says. "It underscores our brand platform of  ‘Everywhere you want to be'," Burke says. “We know people want to be at the World Cup, and we want to help them get there.”



A big part of that platform is highlighting the passionate nature of soccer fans around the world. With the tournament’s launch, Visa will break a television commercial from agency BBDO that features several Nobel Peace Prize laureates (including from Oscar Arias, Leymah Gbowee, Sir Bob Geldof, David Trimble and Lech Walesa) speaking about how soccer turns them -- people who have been awarded for their peaceful initiatives -- into rabid fans.

“We pride ourselves on being united, except when football is involved,” Gbowee says. Each laureate gets more passionate as he or she talks about rival teams and how excited they get when their teams win. “Football isn’t life or death. It’s much more important than that,” says Geldof, before onscreen text reads: “There’s peace. Then there’s football.”

“During football, everyone is competitive and rooting for their own team,” Burke says. “We think this is a good, unique way to bring that to life and stand out when there are a lot of other activations out there.” 

Other World Cup-themed commercials feature former French player Zinedine Zidane watching the World Cup in enemy territory (a.k.a. an Italian restaurant) and another spot showing how people from all of over the world (including rugby players, salsa dancers, fishermen, actors and physicists) are passionate about the game.

Print and digital ads, meanwhile, will feature popular film and television characters from, among others, “Kung Fu Panda,” “Madagascar,” “Shrek” and “The Simpsons,” showing how they want to be a part of the World Cup. (Visa worked with DreamWorks Animation and Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products to use the characters.) “It’s a way of dramatizing the fact that everyone, everywhere wants to be a part of the World Cup,” Burke says of using the characters. “It’s a way of bringing that to life.”

The biggest elements, however, may be online. Visa has created a portal,, where fans can engage in content and express their affinity to the World Cup in any number of ways. One portion of the site shows off 90-second sharable films (which employ the same format and soundtrack) created by 32 filmmakers showing off how their country celebrates the World Cup. Visa has also enlisted 11 “fanbassadors” from places like Brazil, Mexico, Japan and the U.K., who will capture and curate fans’ defining moments, and share the content through social networks.

And for those who really want to get in on the action, Visa has crated a “tele-transporter” through which fans can insert their faces into a series of World Cup-themed videos (having a romantic dinner with FIFA star Fabio Cannavaro, or making a stupendous block as a goalkeeper) that are ready to be shared across social networks. 

“Most [fans] won’t be able to physically be there, and we want them to know what it’s like to be there,” Burke says. “While we may all be from different geographies, from a social standpoint, we can all be united when we celebrate football.”

1 comment about "Visa Heads Into World Cup Fray".
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  1. Scott Jones from JLL Technologies, June 13, 2014 at 2:10 p.m.

    Great holistic, integrated, global strategy. Amazing to witness a behind-the-scenes view of how Visa are measuring impact and success...

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