[Toronto] Visa International claims to be the first Olympic Games sponsor to use the Internet to deliver the "excitement and thrills of Olympic competition" to consumers worldwide, through a free online video game. Visa, an Olympics sponsor, started Visa Championships this month, offering players in 23 countries the chance to compete in three virtual Olympic winter sports to win a trip for two to the 2006 games in Turin, Italy, and to be crowned global champion. In each country, the player with the lowest combined time across the three sports-bobsled, giant slalom and snowboard cross-after surviving multiple rounds and a national competition, gets to go to Turin as Visa's guest.
Visa is working closely with two Olympic sponsors, Lenovo and Panasonic, who are providing technical expertise and prizes at the national and international level, including a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop and a Panasonic home-theater system. To drive buyers to the game, Visa is running banner ads created locally in each country. In Canada, for instance, banner ads by Arc Worldwide, Toronto, will appear on sites including Yahoo, AOL and Sympatico. The game, available in 13 languages at visa.com/visachampionships, was developed by WildTangent, Redmond, Wash.