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BtoB's Best Marketers: Antonio Lucio, Visa Inc.

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Visa Inc. was a brand you couldn't miss at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Under its “Go world/cheer” theme, Visa launched the biggest integrated marketing campaign in the company's history via TV and online, and driven by a social media strategy. Fans were invited to create a “cheer” for their favorite Team Visa athletes through a variety of social media platforms. They could perform one-click cheers through Visa's Cheer application on Facebook; upload photos or video cheers; and text cheers, to name a few options. Winning cheer entries were incorporated into a commercial, including one for gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps. Overall, the effort generated 49 million video views and more than 60 million cheers for Team Visa athletes. “By any stretch of the imagination, we've surpassed our objectives,” said Antonio Lucio, global CMO, strategy and corporate development officer at Visa Inc., who spearheaded the effort. Visa had merchants and financial institutions in 71 countries participate in its sponsorship platform, up from 45 at the Beijing games. It also collaborated with 1,000 financial institutions and merchants through the London games, up from 573 in Beijing. The campaign provided important lessons for Visa as it expands internationally, Lucio said, noting the company currently spends 60% of its marketing budget outside the U.S. International revenue, driven by cross-border activity, rose to $748 million in the third quarter ended June 30, up 13% from the same period a year earlier. Internal social media objectives were surpassed in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico and Russia, he added. Visa also used the Olympics to show off its contactless card and mobile payments technology. The overall effort was a hit, as total spending on Visa accounts in the U.K. reached more than $1.4 billion by the close of the two-week games. Lucio said that by year-end, the Visa Business Network, which counts 150,000 members, will boost its small-business emphasis. Also expect to see social media influencing other campaigns, such as one for the National Football League that kicked off in September. After all, Lucio said, “We're never stopping our consumer engagement strategy."
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