Visa keeps its Olympic sponsorship relevant

The brand tweaks the concept it had planned for this year's games to show people how easy it is to do their part for public safety.

visa-image“Faster, higher, stronger” is the motto of the Olympic Games, and now Visa might want to add “safer” and “cleaner” to that as it reminds people the Games will go on, as well as other public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Two weeks ago, the IOC announced that the Games would be postponed until 2021, throwing marketing plans at brands already scrambling to respond to the pandemic into further disarray. The Olympics are high stakes, with Coke investing $3 billion to extend its sponsorship deal to 2032 for the event. Canadian sponsors like RBC have been heavily involved through its Training Ground Olympic sponsorship program, which helps seek out Olympic hopefuls and provides them with financial support.

Visa is a worldwide sponsor of the Olympic and Paralympic Games through to 2032. The payment solutions provider, which has supported athletes and the Olympic Games since 1986, says it supports the postponement decision, and that it is committed to supporting and celebrating Canadians among the global roster of over 90 Team Visa athletes.

During the most recent Winter Olympics in South Korea, Visa Canada leveraged its athletes with the aim of reaching a younger demographic as it touted its payment-enabled gloves, pins and stickers for the Games partnership.

Now it is employing athletes again in a digital campaign by BBDO called “Do Your Part Like an Olympian,” in which Olympians showcase their athleticism, as well as hygiene best practices during a pandemic. Videos will include, among others, Greek pole vaulter Katerina Stefanidi, American swimmer Katie Ledecky and Canadian climber Sean McColl. McColl, for example, shows off his prowess on an apartment chin-up bar, then demonstrates proper handwashing technique.

Brenda Woods, VP of marketing for Visa Canada, tells strategy it’s leveraging its roster of athletes to help spread public saftery messages, as well as remind people that the Tokyo Games are not cancelled, but postponed – McColl signs off in his spot with the message, “see you in 2021.”

According to Woods, Visa had previously shot creative that showcased how remarkably difficult Olympians’ athletic feats are, which would then be juxtaposed against the ease of using a Visa product. Following that same creative construct of “this isn’t easy, but this is,” she says the brand decided to turn the attention to the Olympians doing things that anyone can do to help protect each other.

“Right now, we all need to be united regardless of nationality, sport or gender,” Woods says. “The World Health Organization is advocating for these practices to ensure we get through this together and we believe Olympians are the perfect cast to bring that messaging to life.”

Woods says that even though the Olympics have been postponed, the games can still accomplish its long-held mission of bringing people together and uplifting everyone’s spirits, on behalf of Visa. Founded in 2000, “Team Visa” has championed nearly 500 athletes that are representative of Visa’s brand values and priorities.