Bolt Fronts Visa Europe’s London 2012 Flow Faster Ad


As the Games edge ever nearer Visa Europe has rolled out its first major London 2012 work, focusing on speed and ease of use and featuring, yes, you guessed it, Usain Bolt.


Alongside Bolt, in what is his first creative appearance as a Visa Europe Innovation Ambassador, are cameos from a slew of other Team Visa Europe athletes.


Varying iterations of the campaign across Europe will feature cameos by local Olympic athletes, In the UK team members include gymnast Louis Smith, BMX rider Shanaze Reade, boxer Khalid Yafai, triple jumper Phillips Idowu, Taekwondo star Aaron Cook and Paralympic athlete Stefanie Reid. Each depicted in a setting that reflects either their sport or their personality.


In fact, no less than 20 European Olympic stars from nine different countries have a role in the various versions, cuts and edits of this single campaign.


Visa will hope that this gives the single multi-market campaign, created by Saatchi & Saatchi, reach and resonance rights across the continent.


The spearhead TV spot debuted across Europe on Saturday 17th march. In the Olympics home country, the UK, the full 90-second version first aired on Jonathan Ross’s flagship ITV talk show.


Visa is using its London 2012 rights to showcase its most recent payment innovations and this will be the first Games that consumers can leave their cash at home and make contactless payments with either their contactless card or a suitable NFC-enabled mobile phone at all Olympic financial transaction points.


“Everyone knows and trusts the Visa brand and now that they’re making payments even easier and faster it’s a natural fit for me to work with them,” said Bolt at the launch event.


Innovatively, Visa are also using promoted tweets within the campaign at #seeBoltrun


The full range of Visa mobile, contactless and card services are shown is the ‘Flow Faster’ spot itself.


Set to the sound track of ‘Hundred Mile High City’ by Ocean Colour Scene, opens with Bolt arriving at a London airport. At the baggage carousel an ordinary member of the public seems to challenge him to a race across the city. The two then speed across London – using only Visa to get across town.


At the ad’s conclusion, both reach the Olympic stadium and while Bolt settles in to his blocks, the stranger turns out to be the pistol starter for the sprint.


The campaign runs under the brand’s European ‘Flow better With Visa’ umbrella idea and ends with the strapline ‘Flow Faster with Visa’.


Alongside the TV ad, consumers across Europe will be offered Olympic-related Visa Golden Space promotions through a dedicated website. These will include the chance to win ticket packages to the Olympics, as well as instant win prizes.


The initiative will subsequently roll out across digital, print, radio, cinema and both traditional and digital out-of-home sites across Europe.




Is there a danger of sponsorship saturation here? While he may be the world’s most famous athlete and perhaps the biggest name at the Olympics, the Jamaican sprinter is already on European TV screens in ads for Virgin Media, the Jamaican Tourist Board.


Games, as well as other prizes via a main draw and instant win competitions.


Visa, will of course, point not just to his superstar status, but also to the fact that the objective of its campaign is to promote the message of speed (and the connected idea of ‘ease of use’). So who better to be their main brand ambassador than Bolt.


After all, Visa is using its Games sponsorship to focus on its payments innovation – both in its marketing and by installing contactless payments infrastructure across London and at the Olympic and Paralympic Games venues.


There are already 20 million contactless cards in the UK and 30 million across Europe, with over 205,000 acceptance points at major retailers. London is also already a hotspot for Visa contactless payments.


Visa is working with partners, including Samsung and Vodafone, to make payments-enabled phones available to consumers. Suitable phones with live Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology and special apps will act as a Visa card, allowing Londoners and visitors to travel around the city and make purchases just by waving their mobile phone against a secure reader at a retailer’s till


Mariano Dima, Executive Vice President of Product and Marketing Solutions at Visa Europe, said: “Bolt embodies speed, effortlessness and performance – the ability to deliver even on the world’s biggest stage. Similarly for Visa Europe, London 2012 is a showcase for our latest payments technology including contactless and mobile payments, which will enable cardholders to experience a secure, reliable and fast payments infrastructure for the Games and beyond. Bolt is the perfect fit.”


Visa has been a global sponsor of the Olympic Games since 1986 and the Paralympic Games since 2002 and we were the first global sponsor to commit to 2012. It primarily uses what it describes as the ‘world’s biggest sporting event’ to promote its brand, shift perceptions, increase goodwill, raise awareness and reinforce preference for Visa products and services at both an international and local level.


Indeed, Visa Europe will judge the success of its Olympic marketing on the basis of consumer awareness: whether people understand the new technologies and solutions that modernise the perception of Visa as a technology company and whether they change their behaviour accordingly.


The payments brand is also an official supporter of UK athletes through its backing of ‘Team GB 2012 – Our Greatest Team’.






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Twiiter – #seeBoltrun

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