Visa to use runner Usain Bolt in World Cup campaign

Visa Europe is gambling on Olympian Usain Bolt to bring “clarity” and “excitement” to the marketing of its products and services around the upcoming World Cup.

Visa is hoping Usain Bolt can make its World Cup activations stand apart from rival sponsors.

The FIFA sponsor is staggering the start of its sponsorship activation across 22 markets over the next month in the build up to a TV ad featuring the World and Olympic 100m champion. The ad shows Bolt racing across several locations as he morphs into a footballer playing in Brazil.

It treads a similar path to the Olympic sponsor’s London 2012 TV spot with the payment services provider claiming it is a “simple but effective” theme to push the speed of its services. The ad airs next month when it will be backed by social media promotions to win trips to Brazil.

Visa is ramping up its use of social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Tumblr to support the strategy, which it says will be clearer at highlighting the benefits of its products than previous sponsorship efforts. The investment in social media reflects the company’s global shift to more integrated media plans that has seen it invest between 30 and 40 per cent in digital and mobile channels.

Promotions will vary accordingly to the Visa products available in each market, however, the financial firm will devote more of its budget to contactless and online payments.

Visa claims contactless payments are reaching “critical mass” in several markets including the UK where it has already been running teaser World Cup outdoor adverts. The payments company will also include digital wallet, which launched last November, in upcoming local sponsorship activations.

Colin Clarke, executive director at Visa Europe told Marketing Week the combination of Usain Bolt and the learnings it took from London 2012 would allow the seventh iteration of its “Life flows better with Visa” strapline to cut-through to consumers this summer. Visa was criticised by some consumer groups for preventing sports fans using other cards to buy tickets to the last summer Games as well as at venues.

Clarke adds: “The criticisms we faced [around the London 2012 Games] was an area that we could have been clearer about in terms of communications. [The World Cup] is going to be a different experience to London and we’ve tried to do a lot of communications around what we bring to the tournament.