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Cannes 2012: Rewriting Olympics history

The afternoon of the 59th International Festival of Creativity witnessed speakers discussing about brand Visa's 25-year partnership with the Olympic Games and the meaning of the partnership for both the brands.

The Olympics is known for the passion and spirit it ignites. The afternoon of the second day of the 59th International Festival of Creativity saw speakers discussing the topic, 'The making of a global Olympics marketing campaign - right approach, right message, right time'.

The speakers in the panel included Antonio Lucio, global chief marketing, strategy and corporate development officer, Visa; Patrick O'Neill, executive creative officer, TBWACHIATDAY; Timo Lumme, managing director, IOC Television & Marketing Services; and Nadia Comaneci, gymnast and Olympic gold medal winner. The session was moderated by Rupal Parekh, agency editor, Ad Age.

cannes 2012

Parekh began the discussion by asking the speakers how brands amplify the Olympics and the relevance of brands in the Olympic Games.

To this, Lumme answered, "Brands bring assets to the Olympics. In fact, in the case of the London Olympics, half of the operational budget has come through various associations such as sponsorship, cash and product and services. It is the association with the brands from across the globe that actually makes the Olympics a truly global product."

Parekh next asked, "What are the criteria that are kept in mind for the association with brands?" According Lumme, the criteria are very simple - the committee looks for a long relationship, mutual understanding and a fantastic marketing campaign.

Parekh asked O'Neill how the agency developed a seamless global marketing campaign.

O'Neill explained how the agency, after making several presentations, stumbled upon the idea for the 'Go world' campaign. "Launched in 2008, the initial idea was to name the campaign as 'Go humans'. But as we went through various examples and case studies of brilliant stories of human achievements, we decided to change the name. Also, we decided to use black and white photographs to talk about their past achievements in order to create nostalgia."

The agency recently created a television commercial for Visa featuring Nadia Comaneci, Olympic gold medal winner in gymnastics.

When asked by Parekh how the company prioritises its campaign for various countries, Lucio replied, "We start with the story of a local hero and then that commercial is supported by the stories of international heroes such as Michael Phelps, and follow it with the rest."

In conclusion, Lucio emphasised that the Olympic Games are recognised as an important universal sports event and Visa's business structure is both local and global, "making us the right partners in the true sense," he added.

Follow Anushree Bhattacharyya

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