Shortlisted 2017




Lead Agency



The Challenge

The Challenge From the start we knew that despite being a long time official sponsor of the Olympic Games Visa was failing to leverage this association in a way that made them more meaningful to their most desired audience –
millennials. We learnt first that this audience has a greater need to be constantly connected than any other and that social media fuels this need through the constant supply of ‘real time’ and ‘bite sized’ content that these constantly connected consumers can access round the clock via omnipresent smartphones.

We also found that whilst millennials tend to visit multiple social networks in a day, one network is unanimously common to all – Facebook. However, we weren’t the first brand to make this connection. Content targeting
millennials through Facebook during the Olympics was ubiquitous creating a highly competitive space to be seen and heard in.

To cut through it was crucial to understand not just the behaviour but the mindset of this audience. So we went straight to the source and listened to them in social media which uncovered two transformative pieces of

Firstly: they crave new experiences and hold brands that provide them in higher esteem than those that don’t.
Secondly: amongst the many different passion points this audience have, humour and comedy is one of the most united connecting interests that they share and participate in through social media. With this insight we had a clear
understanding of how we could differentiate our campaign and elevate our Olympic partnership above the noise.

The Strategy

At the heart of the campaign idea was the concept of ‘real-time’ agile execution.
This meant that, irrespective of the idea, platform or format Visa would always react to real-time consumer feedback and insights, and adapt its creative and media approach immediately. This required a total organizational shift in
strategic planning and execution across the client and media owner.

The creative strategy combined the content consumption behaviours around the Olympics Games, and those of millennial audiences in particular. The campaign idea was to create daily video content created and broadcast in ‘realtime’ celebrating the day’s Olympics events through the medium of improv comedy, and music. The idea for Visa Improvathlon was born, one that was true to its name, improvising every day, and being reactive to its audience. Given its reach and innovation in real-time video technology Facebook was the perfect partner to activate such an ambitious plan for our Olympics sponsorship. It was also an opportunity to test and learn with Facebook’s latest innovation ‘Facebook Live’ which would allow Visa to take real time content delivery to a whole new level. However, neither Facebook nor Visa had delivered a campaign like this before, and it required a mammoth effort to bring to the world a true media-first which delivered real-time branded content daily across multiple markets in Europe. Visa was the first
brand to embark on such a reactive content strategy giving it a unique PR talkability and recognition as ‘risk takers’ and ‘innovators’ within the finance category.

A main driver of the success of the campaign was the collaboration between the agency, Visa, and Facebook who worked collaboratively to monitor, create, optimize, and distribute the content every day – a process which forged a
blueprint for a totally new way of working for all involved.

The Implementation

Taking a ‘real-time’ approach to creating and distributing content was not only new to Visa, it was a new approach for the IOC as well, who have a strict set of guidelines and processes for sponsorship content.

In order to ensure the smooth execution of this campaign, we spent weeks laying the ‘real-time’ framework – which included setting up workflows, best practices, guidelines for reactive content, guidelines for community moderation and crisis management, and very importantly setting expectations
of various stakeholders at Visa, and IOC.

MEC developed a database where information from various sources including social listening, Facebook page insights, and Facebook advertising was updated and analysed in real-time throughout the day. This data was then turned into client friendly, actionable insight reports. This data along with other performance signals were shared in real-time in the campaign ‘war room’ to allow all teams to agree on optimisations collaboratively.

We included new motifs each day, such as the oiled Tonga man, the flowery bicycles, the biting of the medals etc, that were part of Olympics social media chatter to drive recognition, and relatability. We added new characters such as Gary, the flamingo, and played up the colourful props based on consumer demand. We focussed on promoting the shorter length videos, and crafting stronger opening 10 seconds for each video as they drove higher performance. We moved from a reactive to proactive approach with the community engagement once the videos started to gain in popularity, and created
shareable social assets such as Boomerangs.

The Result

We created and distributed over 100 unique pieces of content, localised, and targeted across four markets in Europe, all supported by an ever evolving media strategy. In total the campaign reached 53,000,000 unique
individuals, and driving 44,000,000 views of the series. We showcased the importance of using consumer feedback and zeitgeist moments to deliver fantastic results – the videos received over 107,000 reactions, and 92% positive sentiment. Our target audience commented, and created a dialogue within each episode seeing a total of 8,986 comments.

The campaign also shifted brand perception among its core millennial audience. Brand effectiveness study conducted by Millward Brown showed a 4.2% points increase in ‘intent to use Visa’, 12.4% points increase in ‘ad
ID: 65 | Page 2 of 4 awareness’, and 12.7% increase in ‘sponsorship association’ among millennials.

“MEC helped us to delivering not only a first for Visa, but also for Facebook across 4 markets for the Rio Olympics. Thanks to MEC’s smart, data-driven strategy the steering of the campaign to support real-time content distribution and real-time user engagement moderation was not only simplified, but also proofed to be ad-hoc adaptable so that successes could be amplified instantaneously which led to the outstanding results of our campaign. Especially through the fine-eyed tuning of all targeting capabilities across 4 markets (and languages) MEC created tangible results for Visa not only as a TOP Sponsor of the Olympics Games, but also across Brand preference and usage intent metrics”
Barbara Bahns, Head of Regional Marketing Planning and Communications (CEE) bei Visa Europe