Visa U.S.A., the exclusive card of the Olympic Games in Nagano, this week will premiere the company’s first Olympic-themed advertising spot for the upcoming Winter Games, featuring American Olympic athlete hopefuls. The commercial highlights Visa’s partnership with marquee Olympic sports — including Skiing and Figure Skating — and reinforces the message that Visa is the only card accepted at the world’s largest sports event.
Visa will break the spot, titled “Personal Standards,” on November 22 during ABC’s national broadcast of the college football game between Michigan and Ohio State. The 30-second spot features a number of U.S. Olympic hopefuls, including world medalist figure skater Nicole Bobek and other members of the U.S. Olympic family such as Heidi Voelker, Shannon Nobis, Trace Worthington (U.S. Skiing) and Chris Thorpe (USA Luge). While each athlete attests to his or her personal goals for the Games, the commercial also humorously depicts the individual goals of a Nagano ticket vendor and emphasizes the exclusive acceptance of Visa.
Nagano marks Visa’s seventh Olympic Games since signing as a worldwide sponsor in 1986 and the company’s tenth anniversary since its first Olympic Games in 1988. Visa enters Nagano with two new partnerships that will capture worldwide attention — ice hockey and snowboarding. For the first time, men’s professional ice hockey players will compete and snowboarding and women’s ice hockey will debut as medal sports.
Visa will break the second spot, which focuses solely on Visa’s inaugural partnership with USA Hockey, prior to the Winter Games. Both ads were created by BBDO New York.
“Our partnership with the hottest sports at the Games, including hockey, figure skating, skiing and snowboarding, complements our ‘It’s Everywhere You Want to Be’ campaign,” said Michael Lynch, vice president, event marketing, Visa U.S.A. “Visa will be where fans want to be during the Games.”
Visa hopes the use of humor in the commercial will distinguish it from the other sponsors. “Ten years ago, our Olympic ads highlighted the intense spirit of the Olympic Games. Since the Games in Atlanta, we’ve added humor to separate ourselves from other worldwide sponsors,” said Liz Silver, vice president, advertising, Visa U.S.A.
Bringing the Excitement of Nagano Home
The two commercials kick-off Visa’s 1998 Olympic integrated marketing program, which focuses on bringing the excitement of the Olympic Winter Games to the United States. As with other sports and events partnerships, Visa will combine advertising, member bank and retail promotions, national consumer promotions and public relations to generate enthusiasm and build further brand recognition.
Similar to the Summer Games in Atlanta, the company is promoting the Visa Pull for the Team program. American athletes will benefit from the program, in which Visa guarantees a $2.5 million donation to the U.S. Olympic Committee, based on card usage. Via the program, American cardholders join the team simply by using their Visa cards for purchases through September 30, 2000. To date, the program has contributed nearly $7 million to the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Visa offers consumers the “virtual experience” of Nagano through its web site at www.visa.com. Focusing on human interest stories, Visa is providing on-site correspondents in Nagano, including on-line diaries from U.S. athletes and regular reports from local residents about Olympic preparations. The site also provides a glimpse of the different sporting venues for the Games, as well as a profile of the city of Nagano.
Visa is also promoting Visa Olympics of the Imagination, an international 14-nation youth art competition that will send 25 children — including four from the U.S. — to the 1998 Olympic Winter Games.
The Newest Olympic Partnership — USA Hockey
Visa recently signed a six-year agreement that establishes the company as a partner with the U.S. Olympic Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Teams, as well as the USA Hockey InLine National Team, and positions Visa as the “Preferred Card” of USA Hockey. Visa will also be a top-level sponsor of all USA Hockey National Championship Tournaments and will sponsor the USA Hockey Women’s National Team pre-Olympic tour.
Visa’s Olympic partnership extends through the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.
Visa is the preferred payment brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide. It plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions, their cardholders, and the global economy. Visa is the only consumer payment system to facilitate $1 trillion worth of purchases of goods and services in a fiscal year. Visa’s nearly 600 million cards are accepted at more than 14 million worldwide locations, including 380,000 ATMs in the Visa/PLUS Global ATM Network. Visa’s Internet address is [www.visa.com].