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BtoB Top Marketer: Antonio Lucio, Visa Inc.

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Visa chose Antonio Lucio to lead the company's marketing efforts as the credit card giant prepared for its March initial public offering. His first mandate: To create a coordinated global effort that delivers demonstrable results. “It was clear to me that we needed to increase the accountability of the marketing function, unify our brand positioning and architecture globally, determine the optimal balance between global and local needs and create synergies to help fuel future growth,” the Visa CMO said. That to-do list led to big changes. The most public turn saw Visa's media planning and buying consolidated under one global agency, TBWA Worldwide. The company also unified the positioning, architecture and creative direction of the brand, Lucio said, and created a global marketing team. “Ultimately the transition to a publicly owned company meant a greater level of transparency and more emphasis on the value that our marketing programs deliver to all of our stakeholders,” he said. Visa put into place a mechanism to help it measure the success of marketing initiatives, a proprietary marketing return-on-investment model that delivered a blow to the organizers of the Rugby World Cup. Visa pulled out of its sponsorship of the event in April, after evaluating its marketing impact. “Based on the results, we concluded that it would be in the best interest of the business not to renew our rugby association and focus instead on maximizing the value of our other long-term global partnerships,” Lucio said. Those partnerships include the World Cup, as well as the Olympics and Paralympics. The company's “Go World” Olympic campaign exemplified the three-dimensional marketing strategy Lucio advocates—a strategy that spans TV advertising, usage promotions, digital and event marketing, and client activation programs. “Based on our research, we know that "Go World' is one of the most successful advertising campaigns we have ever run in the United States,” Lucio said. The campaign featured sepia-tone advertisements that coupled the voice of Morgan Freeman with still images of athletes such as Michael Phelps and Nastia Liukin. The combination resulted in a reverent tone. The campaign not only tied Visa to the games, it also tied merchants and financial institutions working with the company to the event, for example through the opportunity to promote Visa-sponsored Olympic trip giveaways. —C.W.
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