Visa Reveals Why It's Not Advertising in the Super Bowl

The company has a different game plan for the Big Game

The Super Bowl season is so game-changing for advertising that some brands don’t even have to be in the Big Game.

Visa has a decades-long relationship with the NFL, being a proud partner of the league since the mid-1990s. However, despite a more than 20-year relationship, being in the Big Game broadcast lineup isn’t a big deal for the company.

Instead of dropping $6.5 million to $7 million for a 30-second spot, which is what Paramount was asking for ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl 58, Visa played the long game, according to Mary Ann Reilly, svp and head of North America marketing atVisa Inc.

At ADWEEK’s recent Outlook event, Reilly explained that, in addition to being the NFL’s exclusive payments partner, Visa sponsors multiple teams, including the San Fransisco 49ers, who suit up on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“The combination of the NFL and then the teams gives us access to the team IP and players. Hopefully, you’ve seen our advertising throughout the season; we actually have a spot with Christian McCaffrey,” Reilly said.

For Visa, it’s not about one night and 100 million people watching. It’s about the season-long effort, especially in a year when NFL viewership has been growing exponentially.

NFL viewership has continued to hit highs in 2023-2024, with the first three weekends of the postseason averaging 38.5 million viewers, a 9% year-over-year increase. In addition, as Reilly pointed out at the event, 93 of the top 100 programs viewed on linear in the U.S. over the last year were NFL games.

“Talking about mixed media modeling and ROI, the combination of TV, digital and social gives us the best return,” Reilly said.

Rather than show up in Big Game ads, instead, Visa will be on the ground in Las Vegas, activating on social media, entertaining clients at events and bringing its sponsored athletes along for the ride.

“We bring in our NFL players to do meet and greets, which is huge for anybody that’s on the ground,” Reilly said. “That’s how we really engage at the Super Bowl.”

In addition, the company has signage throughout the NFL stadiums, and the brand has an activation within the NFL Shop, bringing fun events live to fans.

For Reilly, it’s all of the collective experiences summed up together that bring true ROI for the brand and its clients. And that can’t necessarily happen in a one-off spot.

“We measure everything,” Reilly said. “And pass through value that we give to our clients.”

For the latest Super Bowl 58 advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out Adweek’s Super Bowl 2024 Ad Tracker and the rest of our stories here. And join us on the evening of Feb. 11 for the best in-game coverage of the commercials.

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