Visa Spreads Good Cheer in London 2012 Campaign

Send recorded cheers to Visa's Olympic athletes

Visa's campaign from TBWAChiatDay in Los Angeles for this summer's Olympic Games is based on the insight that fans like to cheer for athletes at sporting events. Boy, the focus group that dug up that nugget was gold-medal material! All snark aside, the competitors in London richly deserve praise. Many have inspiring stories and overcame incredible adversity. That's why I applaud the central idea of the campaign, which harnesses a Facebook app and other social platforms to let fans record audio, video or text cheers for more than 60 (Visa-sponsored) athletes. I uploaded a simple "yay" for Michael Phelps that I'm sure will spark his spirits and get him smokin'. (When I'm convinced he's ditched those ghastly Subway ads forever, I'll stop with the pot jokes.) We're also informed that our cheers could be used in one of Visa's Olympics ads, which brings me to my specific criticism of the campaign: It feeds into the over-commercialization of the event in a way that doesn't match the gravitas of the Games themselves. Prompting folks to do what should come spontaneously and providing an ad-based "reward" seems tacky and small. Ditto the "Join our global cheer" line, which sounds like a pitch for laundry detergent. There's also the irony of Visa getting social with the Olympics while organizers have misguidedly banned fans from posting and sharing photos from the Games. Only official sponsors are allowed to do so, which is understandably generating more boos than cheers. Check out some of the TV work, voiced by Morgan Freeman, below.