How Visa is helping athletes become creators to leverage its brand in 2024

Oksana Chusovitina and Ardan Galymuly at the Paris 2024 Team Visa Summit participate in a branding workshop on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023 at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.(Thomas Padilla/AP Images for Visa)

“Alongside music entertainers and cultural trailblazers, athletes drive the creator economy.”

Visa is building on its sports sponsorships with a strategy to work closely with athletes to help power their skills as creators.

Most recently, Visa announced the four Australian athletes joining Team Visa for Paris 2024, as part of the company’s worldwide payment technology partnership with the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Surfer Molly Picklum, swimmer Flynn Southam, middle distance Paralympian Jaryd Clifford, and footballer Ellie Carpenter will be part of the biggest team in Team Visa history, where diversity has been a key focus. Globally Team Visa includes athletes representing more than 60 markets and 40 sports.

“As part of this, we’re also helping them develop their skills as creators and realise the major opportunities to reach, engage and inspire people all over the world,” said vice president, head of marketing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific at Visa, Natalie Lockwood.

In conversation with Mediaweek, Lockwood explained why investing in the Team Visa program, and in sports in general as part of the company’s marketing campaigns, is a good fit for the brand.

Natalie Lockwood

Natalie Lockwood

“Sport inspires and unites, and our partnerships deliver unique and powerful platforms that enable us to make an impact and showcase innovative and sustainable payment solutions for local and international cardholders.

“As an example, during the FIFA Women’s World Cup matches at Stadium Australia, we offered the first ever Visa commemorative digital prepaid card in Australia, which updated with the final score after the match.

We’re living in this dynamic universe today where, alongside music entertainers and cultural trailblazers, athletes drive the creator economy – they have the power to turn fans and followers into a community by sharing their sporting and personal stories, and to generate commerce through content.”

Team Visa Summit 

Since 2000, the Team Visa athlete program has worked with more than 600 Olympic and Paralympic athletes selected based on their athletic achievements, community involvement, and alignment with Visa’s core values of equality, access, and inclusion.

Said Lockwood, “As the Worldwide Payment Technology Partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the spirit of the Games is in line with Visa’s mission to uplift everyone, everywhere.

“Through Team Visa, we offer athletes financial support, philanthropic endeavour assistance, financial literacy tools, and mental health and wellness resources to achieve their goals professionally and personally.”

Team Visa Australia Paris 24

Team Visa Australia Paris 2024

This year, as part of the program, Team Visa athletes from around the world, including Picklum, attended the Team Visa Summit in Paris for a two-day, creator-led content master class focused on brand immersion and best practices for how to tell their own stories within the broader creator economy

Visa transformed a future site of Paris 2024 into a creator playground by tapping into cultural touch-points across art, technology, music, sport, fashion and food. Guided by cultural influencers and social media creators, athletes learned to express themselves through these passion points while also learning hands-on social platform tips for elevating their personal brand and storytelling.

Said Lockwood, “The Olympic and Paralympic Games have the power to inspire and unite the world and we use the platform to enhance fan experiences, leave behind a legacy and champion athletes to take small steps to achieve greatness through sport and beyond.

“The athletes that make up Team Visa represent many of Visa’s brand values, including gender equality and commitment to social impact, and we’re excited to welcome our four Aussie athletes to the largest and most diverse group globally in the program’s history.”

Globally Team Visa Paris 2024 also includes Caroline Marks (Surfing, US), Ryan Neiswender (Wheelchair basketball, US), decorated athletes like Iga Swiatek (Tennis, Poland), Sky Brown (Skateboarding, Great Britain), Teresa Perales (Para swimming, Spain), Kanoa Igarashi (Surfing, Japan), Qingyi Liu (Breaking, China), Rasheed Broadbell (Athletics – Sprint/Hurdles, Jamaica), Ardan Galymuly (Goalball, Kazakhstan) and Jonathan White (Para canoe, Great Britain).

The Paris 2024 team alone will be made up of 117 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from 60 over markets, including eight new markets;  Austria, Armenia, Belgium, Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia, Uzbekistan, Honduras. The team, made up of athletes aged 15-48, will represent 175 medals collectively, with 15 athletes competing in their first Olympic or Paralympic Games. Moreover, the team tallies over 45 million combined social followers across Team Visa athletes, with the highest  percentage of women athletes in program history.

Adam Peaty, Hilary Heron, Desiree Vila, Maria Teresa Perales, Melique Garcia, Davide Morana at the Paris 2024 Team Visa Summit participate in a branding workshop on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023 at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.(Thomas Padilla/AP Images for Visa)

Visa and Formula 1

In addition to the Team Visa program, Visa has also recently announced an agreement with the Red Bull Formula One (F1) Racing teams. The multi-year partnership means Visa will become the first global partner of both Red Bull F1 teams, bringing a “new look team” to the F1 grid in the form of Visa Cash App RB.

Lockwood described this as a “groundbreaking partnership”, one that features Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

“This alliance resonates strongly with our brand’s vision to inspire individuals to ‘make it,’ striving to take small steps for improvement each day, during every race or event. Visa Cash App RB Drivers Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Daniel Ricciardo of Australia will be sporting a newly designed Visa and Cash App-inspired car livery and driver’s kit when the F1 2024 racing series kicks off in Bahrain on February 29 and the full livery unveil will take place during a special Las Vegas event earlier that month.”

In addition, Lockwood stated that Visa and Cash App will be joining Red bull to champion Visa Cash App RB in the F1 Academy series, as part of their longstanding commitment to women’s empowerment and economic advancement through its sponsorship platforms. The F1 Academy series is a single-seat racing championship exclusively for female drivers.

Said Lockwood, “The all-female driving series takes place at seven select F1 tracks over the same weekend as the F1 races and the new livery will also be unveiled during February’s special event.”

Top Image: Gymnast Oksana Chusovitina and Goalball player Ardan Galymuly

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