Visa is living a sponsorship dream in 2012. It has completed 25 years as an Olympic sponsor with the launch of its first social by design campaign, “Go World”. Social by Design means putting a brand in the hands of your target audience to produce organic sharing and word of mouth. Launched in early May this year in 70 countries and customized for local relevance, “Go World” is Visa’s biggest campaign to date (The NewYork Times).
The “Go World” campaign was developed by Visa with its ad agencies, Omnicom Group's TBWA, Atmosphere Proximity and OMD (Ad Age). Visa’s partners Facebook and Google were also idea contributors. And lo, the “cheer” theme emerged!
Everyone cheers Olympic athletes. Visa’s idea was to organize the cheering and own it. The challenge was to give people an incentive to cheer. For this, Visa turned to the group of around 60 Olympic and Paralympic athletes it supports. Team Visa athletes told Visa that fans’ cheers do make a difference.
Visa’s association with the Olympics is as the exclusive payment card and official payment system. But CMO Kevin Burke clarifies that, “The Olympic and Paralympic Games begin and end with the athletes” (ATR). The sponsorship is more about the athletes whose amazing feats make the Games so glorious.
Image source - brandchannel.com
In its 25-year Olympic sojourn, Visa has seen and done it all, having developed and executed major ad campaigns. It all began with the 1988 Calgary Olympics with payment card exclusivity (Visa). Then came the 1998 Nagano Games where it used the Olympic merchant programs as a model to accelerate domestic card acceptance and usage in Japan. The 2008 Beijing Games saw Visa launching its first Olympic-theme global marketing campaign, “Go World”. The campaign has performed well, posting double-digit growth in consumer perception and ROI when compared with non-Olympic campaigns (Ad Age).
The 2012 Olympics is being touted as the first social “media-lympics” due to the growth of the social media in recent years. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Facebook and Twitter had 100 million and 6 million followers respectively, but today Facebook has some 900 million users and Twitter, 100 million (Ad Age). Facebook and Twitter have officially been sanctioned and integrated for the first time by the IOC at the online Olympic Athletes’ Hub, where fans can ‘like’ or ‘follow’ from a slew of global athletes (Ad Age). In earlier Games, it was Visa which was cheering the athletes but in 2012, it wants its cardholders to be the cheerleaders!
The Facebook page of Visa will serve as the hub for all the fans’ cheers, athletes’ responses to fans, their stories and behind-the-scenes videos of their training (Ad Age).
- Fans world over can submit cheers in the form of a text, photo or video created for their favorite athlete, sport or country.
- Using Visa’s Facebook Cheer app, fans will be provided with relevant athlete content based on their likes and preferences, making it a personalized experience (MarketWatch).
- The app provides data on the number of cheers for each athlete or sport and global cheers.
- It also lets fans explore submitted cheers and view photos/videos of athletes, their stories and athlete-to-athlete cheer videos.
Fans also have the option of submitting one-click cheers via mobile, tablets or online on Visa’s YouTube channel and partner sites like Yahoo!, Sports Illustrated and NBCOlympics.com (MarketWatch).
Fans will be able to cheer using other locally preferred networks like Sina-Weibo, China and VKontakte, Russia (MarketWatch). Team Visa will also reach out to fans through their social networks with instances of how fans’ encouragement helps them. The cheers submitted by fans online will be showcased in one or many congratulatory ads to be run in late July and August, according to Mr. Burke (Ad Age).
Looks like Visa is pulling out all the stops with this campaign!
Though “Go World” is a social campaign, it does include traditional media like TV. Visa will be running TV ads as part of the campaign. The first ad titled “The Difference” was aired early last month which featured memorable Olympic moments like Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva's record-breaking jump to gymnast Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10 (Ad Age). Visa has retained actor Morgan Freeman as narrator for the TV ads and continued the use of photos with sepia and gold tones as in earlier campaigns. The use of the some similar components in continuing ad campaigns denotes brand consistency.
To measure the success of this campaign, Visa will be using several traditional gauges like business metrics such as transactions, card activations and usage; brand-equity measures such as awareness and perception; as well as the satisfaction of its clients such as merchants and banks. Social engagement is the fourth and particularly important measure in this campaign. So Visa will also be measuring likes, video views, uploads of cheers and shares to gauge success.
A brand like Visa making its campaign social is a sign of the power of social media and its rising importance with marketers today. Who will you be cheering for on Go World? Tell us in the comments below.