BBDO, Team Visa Take ‘The Carpool to Rio’

By Erik Oster 

BBDO launches Visa’s 2016 Rio Olympics campaign with “The Carpool to Rio,” a 105-second spot starring 15 athletes from around the world.

The spot opens with New Zealand shot putter Valerie Adams waking up and throwing her circular alarm clock through the wall. She then uses Visa Checkout to order a couple of morning beverages, drives her mini van to an auto ferry and sets off. U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin swims up to the ferry to join Adams before the two arrive in Canada to pick up synchronized divers Jennifer Abel and Pamela Ware. Before long the car pool includes other Olympic athletes such as U.S. decathlete Ashton Eaton, volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings, soccer player Carli Lloyd and swimmer Connor Jaeger

The way the atheletes each have a quick introduction reflective of their sport, such as Abel and Ware trying unsuccessfully to shoot for shotgun, is fun, managing to make the predictable carpool premise not overstay its welcome. That women’s Olympic sports are given such a spotlight here is also refreshing and the ad should stoke excitement for the games, while also highlighting how Visa can help you “click, swipe, dip and tap” their way to easier payments. Of course, having Morgan Freeman provide a voiceover never hurts, either.

“We believe this campaign is the most ambitious, best integrated, most multichannel global Olympic campaign we’ve done so far,” Visa’s recently appointed executive vice president, chief marketing and communications officer Lynne Biggar told Adweek. “Our desire was to have it be very inspiring and be very much technology-led and technology-driven and leveraging Team Visa, which is a group of 46 athletes who embody these core values of acceptance, partnership and innovation in a playful, optimistic way.”

She added that “an increasing percentage of [Visa’s marketing spend] is going toward digital, and that’s just our general philosophy when we think about marketing. But we haven’t said ahead of time we want a certain allocation of our dollars to go to digital. We have said that our dollars should go in the places they’re going to drive the biggest and most impactful return for Visa.”

Visa is celebrating its 30th year as an Olympic sponsor this year and is offering its 46 Team Visa athletes the new Visa payment ring to use at the games.