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Hedgehog Hall of Fame: Visa Europe - Contactless Olympics

28th August 2013


Company: Visa Europe Campaign: Visa's Contactless Olympics Category: Financial PR Campaign of The Year - South - Shortlisted Objective The Contactless Olympics PR campaign saw Olympic Games global sponsors Visa and Samsung team up with UK sponsor Lloyds TSB to showcase mobile contactless payments at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, using the Samsung Galaxy SIII handset. The objectives were threefold: 1. To encourage consumers to use contactless payments at the Olympics and deliver a sustained growth in the use of contactless payment technology across the UK 2. To generate a positive buzz around contactless payments and to address specific security concerns raised in the media about the security of contactless payments. By doing so, to secure a significant quantity of positive press coverage in support of this emerging technology 3. To pave the way for the industry to deliver commercial mobile payments by generating and promoting a positive response from influential trialists across the payments industry and the Olympic family Strategy & Target Audience The primary audience was the consumer (to encourage usage of contactless cards at the Games), targeted via a combination of mainstream and early adopter / online media across Europe. Almost 1,000 Samsung and Visa Olympic athletes and officials, partners and press (from both online and traditional outlets) were chosen to use the Olympic-themed SIII handset. The use by participants ranging from athletes, Usain Bolt and Louis Smith, to influential UK media and industry experts aimed to create ambassadors for mobile payments and encourage consumers to use their contactless cards as a gateway to incoming mobile payments services. The trial was developed with PR strategy baked in from the earliest stages, tying it in to Visa's overall business objective to drive the uptake of contactless payments at the Olympic Games and pave the way for the imminent launch of commercial mobile payments. In a high-risk approach to the showcase, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games was chosen by Visa as the test ground for the mobile payments service - the first time that Visa’s Olympic sponsorship had been used to promote a new technology. To make this possible Visa created a ‘contactless payments paradise’ at Olympic venues, demonstrating the benefits that the new technology (whether card or mobile) can bring in a fully contactless environment. Action Phase One: Pre-Games-  A groundswell of comms activity began in December 2011, when the registration process for the yet-unrevealed Olympic phone began. The campaign launched in earnest at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2012, where Visa introduced the concept of the Contactless Games and previewed the exclusive Olympic payment application to a worldwide audience. 50 European journalists and analysts were briefed over the three day show on the future of payments and the critical role that mobile had to play in its delivery. The story proactively addressed issues of security and usage with the trade and online media - creating understanding and advocacy that would prove critical later in the campaign. Within five days of the Samsung Galaxy SIII being revealed it was confirmed as the Olympic handset, capitalising on the device’s high media profile and generating another wave of interest across Europe. For the next two months stories were drip-fed to media about the approach of the Contactless Games to generate a sustained awareness of the story. Phase Two: Games-time-  The main creative elements of the campaign focused around the Olympic Games in London, with three major peaks: 30 UK media were invited to take part in the live trial, including both Visa’s traditional corporate targets and the early adopter media. The Visa team also secured trial opportunities with Team Visa athletes and ambassadors such as Usain Bolt, Sir Steve Redgrave, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Louis Smith. Each trialist was given a unique ‘contactless experience’ pack that highlighted the best places for them to use contactless technology, based around their office locations - creating a ‘mini tour’ of contactless London that they could undertake at their leisure. Every trialist was also given the opportunity to trial the phone at a live Olympic venue. The Contactless Olympics were officially launched when Sir Steve Redgrave made the inaugural mobile payment at the London 2012 Megastore in Hyde Park. At the same time the Visa team launched a digital media kit with video footage and use-case images encouraging consumers to try their own contactless card payments at the Games. The kit was used across Visa’s European markets to increase the impact of the story. An intensive Games time media programme brought ‘contactless London’ to life for 100 key media from 9 countries. The programme was tailored for every visiting group and included a tour of the Olympic venues and across London using contactless technology installed in taxis, in retail outlets and at restaurants to give them a chance to experience a truly ‘contactless future’. Results Contactless use increased dramatically during the Games, with six times the number of contactless transactions during Games time as there were during the same period in 2011. Olympic venues accounted for 15 per cent of contactless transactions in the UK during the period exceeding Visa’s internal targets. The growth in usage has continued to grow since the Games, with transactions now predicted to quadruple in the next 12 months as a result of the boost. To create that uplift the Games-time PR campaign delivered 25 events, briefing 100 media, to generate 200 pieces of pan-European coverage. From January 2012 to September 2012, the campaign generated more than 800 articles across Europe, each one containing one or more of Visa’s key innovation messages. The Games-time coverage alone reached more than 311 million people across Europe. Highlights include: The Daily Telegraph; Financial Times; CNN; Evening Standard; Pocket Lint; TechRadar; Les Echos; The Register; CNet; Mobile News; Diario Economico; El Pais; Expansion. Trialist feedback included: “I’ve loved using Visa's contactless payment app this summer. It’s incredible how easy and fast making a contactless payment is, it’s definitely the way of the future” - Sir Steve Redgrave “It’s a fantastic new piece of technology that I’ve loved using over the summer at the Olympic & Paralympic Games, it’s made it so much simpler and quicker to pay for things” - Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson “The ease of the Visa contactless app is fantastic, the less I can think about everything else in my life and just focus on training, the better. I’m always on the move so this is perfect for that” - Louis Smith The PRmoment Golden Hedgehog Awards 2014 are now open for entries. Here are this years updated categories.

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