Visa rolls out Olympian-themed campaign despite games' postponement

New work repositions original Olympics campaign, which had been 80 percent produced

Published On
Mar 31, 2020

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The Olympic Games might be postponed until next year, but some sponsors are trying to make the most of their marketing dollars in 2020. On Tuesday, Visa, which has been an Olympics sponsor since 1986, began rolling out a series of videos with its team of athletes that promote messages of safety and sanitation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Called "Do Your Part Like An Olympian,” the campaign showcases athletes such as skateboarder Sky Brown and BMX rider Kenneth Tencio performing the difficult sporting feats they have trained to do, juxtaposed with easy safety measures like handwashing. In one spot, Brown says, “Hi, I’m Sky Brown, and this isn’t easy,” before kick-flipping a skateboard in her bedroom. She then moves to the bathroom and says, “But this is,” as she washes her hands. “Sanitize your hands like an Olympian. #StayHome,” the text reads. The spot closes with, “Together, we’ll get through this.”

BBDO New York worked on the spots. The campaign also features similar spots from Tencio, who appears to ride his bike in his living room, and pole vaulter Katerina Stefanidi, who has a little trouble using her pole in her home but no trouble washing her hands. More Visa athletes will roll out their own spots from the confines of their homes through the week. Visa said content could come from all 90 of its Olympic and Paralympic ambassadors.

Before the coronavirus pandemic forced the rescheduling of the Olympics, Visa had planned to run a similar campaign that featured tough athletic feats juxtaposed with the ease of using a Visa product, according to Chris Curtin, Visa’s chief brand and innovation marketing officer. Roughly 80 percent of that creative was already produced, and Visa had planned to air it this spring and summer ahead of the games. Since news broke of the rescheduling, Visa pivoted to “Do Your Part like an Olympian,” a new campaign that follows a similar strategy.

“Following that same creative construct of ‘this isn’t easy, but this is,’ we decided to turn the attention to the Olympians doing things that can help protect everyone,” says Curtin. “Right now, there is something bigger than the games and we all need to be united regardless of nationality, sport or gender.”

Visa also says it has offered its athletes the option to extend their relationship with the brand through 2021.

Visa is not the only Olympics sponsor scrambling to adjust its marketing. Other global sponsors include Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, General Electric, Toyota and Intel. And other companies, like Mattel, had timed certain Olympic-themed collections around the event. A Mattel spokeswoman says a new line of Barbie dolls will move forward this year as planned. A marketing expert recently told Ad Age it will be tough for marketers to switch gears for campaigns already in production, though some “evergreen” content could be repurposed.