Visa Marketing Chief: What's on Our Digital Slate for 2017

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Visa is doing a new campaign with BBDO to announce StubHub as the latest merchant to join its payment program, and the brand continues to experiment with wearables. In an interview with Ad Age, Lara Balazs, senior VP-North America marketing, discusses how Visa plans to maintain its digital edge in 2017.

Advertising Age: Visa was in a lot of places in 2016 -- you might say even say "Everywhere..." What was the brand's most effective marketing initiative?

Lara Balazs: Just like marketing has gone so heavily into the digital world, so have electronic payments. The greatest success we've had is in showcasing these innovative products Visa brings to you. To promote that message, we've used our sponsorships. Coming off [2016], we had our NFL partnership and very unique work in the Super Bowl activation of seamless payments in the stadium and the digital light show. Additionally, in the Olympics we showcased our payment ring, which is a ring that you wear and you can make payments with it. We took those innovations and we used our sponsorship platforms to amplify them.

Ad Age: How has your tagline evolved on a social-issues level?

Ms. Balazs: We continue to promote the idea that "Everywhere you want to be" is not only a platform that connotes that we promise you payments how and when and where you want them, but also that we offer payments for everyone everywhere. So through our sponsorship platforms, we've ensured we have diversity in inclusion as part of our go-to-market approach. Not only do we showcase different types of people in our ads, but we've also done a lot of promotion around women. We did #FreetheBid, we've partnered with the Girls Lounge, Makers, Girl Scouts, the list goes on.

Ad Age: Was there anything new you did in 2016 that you plan to adjust for next year?

Lara Balazs.
Lara Balazs. Credit: Visa

Ms. Balazs: We're going to build on [2016] initiatives. Where we'll continue to push and drive even more into is experiences. You as a consumer best experience Visa when you're using us. We know that experiences matter and in particular, millennials are choosing experiences over things. We are continuing to push bringing our consumers experiences and allowing them to access our brand in new ways—this could look like dynamic shareable content in our digital, social, mobile campaigns, or it can also be in some of the sponsorships—the NFL games, the Olympics and stadium activations where consumers can experience new payment innovations. Also virtual reality and behind-the-scenes moments with some of our football teams, like the Chicago Bears, is going to be key in 2017.

Ad Age: What's ahead for Visa in 2017 on the digital front?

Ms. Balazs: We continue to see digital, social and mobile as an important part of the go-to-market mix. Our content will continue to showcase innovations through those channels. You'll see us exploring Internet of Things with payments. You've got exciting experiences like the connected car where you are in your car and you can make a seamless payment. We work with our financial institutions, the device manufacturers, the tech companies, and then have this content embedded in that—bracelets, rings—that we can showcase through our digital channels.

Ad Age: Any plans for Super Bowl?

Ms. Balazs: We will have a presence at the Super Bowl -- we are right now not sharing that widely.

Ad Age: What do you predict will be Visa's largest marketing challenge next year?

Ms. Balazs: We still do television, but a lot of what we do is sports-related because they're live appointment TV viewing --that's an important part of our mix. It's all opportunity -- it's never been more exciting to be a marketer in a world going digital. We have products that answer people's needs in the digital space. It's exciting in terms of what you can do and how you can engage with consumers today.