SBD/March 16, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Visa Europe Launches London Games Campaign Touting Mobile Payment Option

In spot, Bolt races unknown rival from airport to London’s Olympic Stadium
Visa Europe is launching its “flagship pre-Olympics ad campaign” featuring Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, and the campaign “advances the company’s ‘Life flows better with Visa’ creative theme to focus on the speed of its latest contactless and mobile payment products," according to Alex Brownshell of MARKETING magazine. The campaign, via Saatchi & Saatchi, includes an ad appearing in Europe under the tagline, “Flow faster with Visa.” In the spot, Bolt “races an unknown rival from the airport to London’s Olympic Stadium in a playful reinterpretation of the brand’s breakthrough ‘Running man’ campaign from 2008.” Visa Exec VP/Marketing & Product Solutions Mariano Dima said, “Speed is one of the key benefits of our new products, so we thought about refining what we mean by ‘better.’ In the context of the Olympics, we thought, who is the fastest man on earth? That is where Usain Bolt comes in.” Brownshell noted Visa has “set itself a lofty objective of using the event to change the perception of its brand from a traditional payments facilitator to a technology company.” The brand is “striking up partnerships and alliances with mobile handset manufacturers including Samsung and networks such as Vodafone in a race to become the de facto provider of new payment technology.” Dima: “People are moving away from just card payments, so we must start building up the understanding that, although Visa has been here for 50 years, we are trying to innovate. For us, this is not so much a campaign, as a showcase of our innovation.” When the Olympics begin July 27, there will be “approximately 100,000 terminals in the UK accepting contractless payments, 3500 of them in the Olympic Park.” Through Visa’s partnership with Coca-Cola, the technology “will be included in its soft-drinks vending machines.” Dima: “We have seen awareness (of Visa as an Olympic sponsor) increase dramatically in the UK over the past three to four years. We track it monthly, and in most markets we are in the top three brands” (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.com, 3/14).
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