Firms gain credit from Games partnerships
If you've been watching television recently you will have found it hard to miss Chinese sports hero Yao Ming and movie star Jackie Chan lending their status to a particular brand name in an advertisement.
The commercial is just one front of a dynamic marketing campaign that Visa International has put in place as part of its commitment to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The payment card company has had a long-term association with the Olympic Games, having been a worldwide sponsor since 1986. In that time, Visa has provided more than US$120 million in support to Olympic athletes through their national organisations.
Last year, athletics golden boy Liu Xiang signed up as Visa's official Olympic spokesman, and the company is planning a major marketing campaign with him.
In 2005, the company signed an agreement with the Beijing Tourism Administration to launch the 'Beijing 2008 - Welcome to China' campaign. When Sydney hosted the 2000 Olympics, a similar programme generated US$40 million over four years and contributed to a 7 per cent increase in tourism.
Another successful programme at past Games has been the Visa Olympics of the Imagination international youth art competition, which encouraged young people to get creative. Thirty selected winners from 18 countries will visit the Beijing Games as guests of the company.
'The Games deliver incomparable international exposure, broad-based audience appeal and a range of events appealing to virtually every demographic,' said James Dixon, Visa country manager, Hong Kong and Macau.
'It allows Visa's 20,000-member financial institutions to tie in exclusive marketing and merchandising campaigns, promoting Visa products and services to cardholders and merchants worldwide,' he added.
One of those financial institutions is Bank of China Hong Kong, itself an official Beijing 2008 sponsor.
This year, the bank and Visa launched the Olympic Games Prepaid Card, which allows customers to purchase stored value cards from HK$100 to HK$5,000 and can be used worldwide for payments at any Visa merchant.
The collectable card features a unique design, with the Beijing Olympic mascots as its theme. This follows the successful launch in 2005 of the Olympic Games Card, which featured the five coloured Olympic rings in its design.
Visa's planned support infrastructure for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games is extensive. An Olympic ATM network will be installed and hundreds of point-of-sale acceptance devices will be fitted at competition and non-competition venues, including at the International Press Centre, the International Broadcast Centre and at the Olympic Village.
Cardholders visiting the Beijing Games will be able to access the Visa Service Centre, which provides multilingual emergency services and general assistance, and the Visa Olympians Reunion Centre will provide former Olympians a drop-in meeting place to rekindle old friendships.