SBJ/January 21 - 27, 2002/This Weeks Issue

Visa stuffs all its sports into Super Bowl spot

Perennial Super Bowl advertiser Visa is using the biggest advertising showcase of the year to debut a commercial that unifies all of its major sports sponsorships. Icons from NASCAR, the NFL, the Olympics and thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown will all appear in the ad, as the payment card market leader hopes to tap into fans' affinity and demonstrate a presence in sports somewhat akin to its overwhelming market-share lead.

Speed and synergy are two themes in the spot from longtime Visa agency BBDO, filmed earlier this month in Los Angeles. The ad, still in final production last week, according to agency sources, starts with New York Giants cornerback Jason Sehorn running, while the voice-over says, "You may know Visa sponsors the NFL." Sehorn is then lapped by Olympic gold-medal sprinter Michael Johnson, as the announcer intones, "But did you know we also sponsor USA Track & Field and the Olympics?"

Johnson is subsequently passed by a galloping horse. "Visa also sponsors the Triple Crown," the voice-over intones, as the thoroughbred charges past. Finally, a stock car driven by Winston Cup driver John Andretti (actually more renowned for being the nephew of famed open-wheel racer Mario Andretti) zooms past the thoroughbred, leaving the horse in a trail of smoke and screeching tires, as the voice-over says, "not to mention NASCAR."

The ad concludes with the standard "everywhere you want to be" Visa tag line.

While Visa did use some NASCAR old-timers in an ad a few year back that also leveraged its Daytona 500 sponsorship, it generally has preferred to affiliate itself with the league and racetracks, rather than drivers.

While the credo of integration is often preached in sports marketing, this ad is one wherein the synergy is readily apparent. As such, it was "probably a pretty easy sell within [Visa] because it allows them to get more value from their sponsorships, and this is also an ad they'll be able to show in the Olympics and throughout the year," said an agency source.

The ad is one of two 30-second spots Visa will run in the Super Bowl this year.

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