Visa’s partnership with the Olympic Games brand began in 1986, and it has grown tremendously over the years. The company used the first installment of the Games to introduce its brand to the global market and create more brand awareness in the market. Afterwards, Visa’s strategy morphed into a strategy that utilized a global platform, but that had the power to influence people locally. This strategic change was evident from the company’s drastic implementation of new processes: they established marketing programs for their financial partners for the 1992 Winter Games.
During the 1992 Summer Games, they invited the merchant community to take part through their online operations and in the 1994 Winter Games, the company went global by introducing corporate relations platforms that involved partners from around the world. Prepaid cards were introduced during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics as a way of Visa improving its services to consumers. The 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics were different was Visa went further by using a new and creative marketing campaign. For example, it incorporated themes to reflect the look of the games and the programs of the members and merchants. Moreover, on-site activation capabilities were a key highlight of the campaign.
During the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Visa decided to give more to its customers by installing a distinctive Olympic ATM network and offering devices that would facilitate payments at the point of sale. The strategy was effective because Visa used the platform to gain global exposure and sell additional products based on the popularity of its brand. With time, Visa expanded its market share. As a result, it barred the Olympic Games’ management from allowing its competitors’ cards to be used in the purchase of tickets. In that regard, it maintained its status as the official partner for payment transactions. This monopolistic move became controversial and Visa’s reputation was compromised for its anticompetitive tactics that were considered unethical.
The company also introduced its payment rings to the international market during the Games. Visa used the opportunity to conduct a market test of the product’s functionality and effectiveness by offering it to 45 athletes at the event (Kastrenakes). Visa improved its offerings during the 2018 Pyeongchang Games by providing innovative point-of-sale (POS) terminals that accepted payments from both mobile and wearable devices (IOC). Furthermore, the company introduced creative means that allowed participants at the event to complete payments smoothly and securely: Olympic pins, NFC-enabled gloves, and special tribute stickers (IOC).