Oct 28, 2009 at 03:03 PM
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VISA CEO: Sponsorship Spots 'Not Entirely Aspirational'

There may be bigger marketing budgets out there, but no one does sponsorship bigger than VISA. A sports marketers dream portfolio - Olympic Games, FIFA, NFL, Kentucky Derby, Live Broadway, and NASCAR. VISA has recently extended their IOC sponsorship to 2020, NFL sponsorship to 2014 and announced activation plans for next year's World Cup.

During VISA's VISA 3rd Quarter conference call yesterday, CEO Joseph Saunders talked about the shift in media mix that will support the brand, and their sponsorship efforts.

Saunders on how digital helps them do it smarter:

"I think that the effect of what we're doing is the same effect that we had a couple of years ago. It's just that we're doing it smarter. And I mean, you have a lot of things going on. We have more digital advertising that's supported by print. We have a little less TV, particularly in the United States and frankly, television rates in the United States are down. They're a little bit more expensive outside the U.S. but I would say the mix between TV and print and digital and the consolidation of our marketing efforts in a single buying entity, a single creative thrust, I mean, all of that put together, we're getting to the same number of people in a more effective manner.

Saunders also said that VISA will continue to move away from brand advertising towards more specific product line initiatives like debit, foreign credit, prepaid, and mobile. How will this affect sponsorship messaging?

I think probably, when everything is said and done, [brand spending will be] around 30%. But remember, even with the NFL, and when you see the Olympic ads, these are going to be more action-oriented ads. These are going to be ads that ask people to spend. The NFL ads will have use your Visa card and go to the Super Bowl. The Olympic ads will have a usage component associated with them. So even these sponsorships are not going to be entirely aspirationally brand driven.