Visa Rolls Out Online Payments Campaign for NFL Opening Day

Uses gender-neutral ads in bid to broaden appeal

Fall is around the corner, which to many Americans is synonomous with football season. Accordingly, Visa is reminding fans that its Checkout online payment system speeds purchases so they can get back to doing what's important, like rooting for their favorite team.

The financial services company is partnering with the NFL and others to tout its system, which enables consumers to use a single login to make purchases at a variety of retailers. To reach as many consumers as possible, Visa is using gender-neutral marketing.

For example, the company will give 30,000 fans the chance to send 18 free roses from 1-800-Flowers to anyone they want for Footballentine's Day on Sept. 6, a day for people to apologize for being such football fanatics. Leading the campaign is actress and Carolina Panthers' die-hard Brooklyn Decker, who'll send a bouquet to her husband Andy Roddick.

It's a smart move, considering 46 percent of NFL fans are women, and women tend to be more active e-commerce shoppers. Visa Checkout has been in development for more than a year and began a soft launch in July and August at retailers like Neiman Marcus and Staples. With a wide release scheduled for later this fall, the latest marketing push coincides with the bulk of the football season—which leads directly into holiday season when mobile purchases and other e-commerce peaks.

"We wanted to make sure our NFL football fans who are women saw this idea and could see it could appeal to them as much as it could appeal to anyone else," said Chris Curtin, chief digital officer at Visa.

TV spots will also begin airing during NFL games when the season kicks off on Thursday. On Sunday, a 30-second ad featuring surfer Kolohe Andino ordering Pizza Hut—a Visa Checkout partner—will debut. A week later, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald will star in an ad that depicts him placing pizza orders while catching passes from quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck.

Curtin said the ideas were inspired by its partner United Airlines, which said its customers wanted utility while their hands were full. "They need to be pulling a suitcase and briefcase with one hand and [using] their mobile device with the other," he said. "The app itself had to be so simple you could use it with a thumb and use the other four fingers to hold the phone."

One thing that football fans have in common is that they’re very active online, according to Curtin. "They're digitally savvy, online-forward consumers that are just as likely to buy a Colin Kaepernick jersey on their phone as they are at a brick-and-mortar location," he said.