Friday
Oct192012

Visa Takes NFL, Fans, San Francisco 49ers On An Adventure Of Epic Proportions

By Barry Janoff

October 19, 2012: Visa has been maximizing its position as an official marketing partner of the NFL this season via a "Make It Epic" campaign.

The credit card and financial firm is giving fans the opportunity to get up-close and personal with players and also enable them to access places in NFL stadiums usually restricted to the general public.

In the campaign's first spot, released last month, Visa showed how card holders could be part of a post-game press conference and actually ask questions to players such as Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens.

In the second Visa NFL Epic commercial, released this week, we see what happens when an über-fan of the San Francisco 49ers gets the opportunity to join head coach Jim Harbaugh, quarterback Alex Smith, linebacker Patrick Willis and the team in their locker room to get them pumped up for a game.

According to Visa, the campaign uses "real-time communications to give enrolled card holders the chance to win exclusive experiences and receive access to NFL-themed discounts." Among the brands aligned with Visa are Papa John’s, Virgin America, EA Sports, 24 Hour Fitness, DirecTV, Burger King, Bose and Lids.

In addition, NFLShop.com is providing discounts on authentic merchandise and Visa is offering NFL-autographed items and a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in February 2014 as part of the activation. (Full details here.)

Support includes Internet and such social media destinations as Facebook and YouTube. Creative was headed by Visa's former lead agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day, Los Angeles. This past September, Visa named a new lead agency, BBDO, which had held the Visa assignment for about 20 years prior to being replaced by TBWA in 2005.

The Niners' 30-second spot is a follow-up to one in which Ravens' linebacker Lewis is questioned by a young girl during a press conference ("What is your favorite color? Your favorite animal? Do you like home fries?"). (See the full spot here.)

The new spot, “Locker Room Speech,” opens with a guy wearing a 49ers jacket giving a pep talk to the team in their locker room. "All eyes right here," he begins using in his best head coach attitude. But the first sign that something is askew comes when the guy then says, "This is our year. I thought it was last year. Turns out I was wrong," a reference to the 49ers being defeated in the NFC championship game by the New York Giants.

Then the guy gets riled up again, "None of us would walk in here and settle for that! That's how we are," he yells, knocking over a stack of cups.

He then stops for a second, looks around and says, "I forgot what I was going to say," drawing a quizzical and dubious stare from Alex Smith.

The guy is then back to his pep-talk rant, focusing on Patrick Willis. "Patrick, I want 100% commitment ," he yells as he repeatedly jabs his finger into the linebacker's chest.

But the guy has another mood swing. "Because I care, man," he gushes as he gives Willis a hug.

Then it's back again to yelling. "Who are we!!??" he screams. To which the team responds, "The 49ers!! " "Yeah!!! he yells. "Yeah!! " the team echoes yells in unison.

Just then, an annoyed Jim Harbaugh walks in. "What the heck is going on in here?" he asks, looking for the intruder who has taken over his locker room.

The guy fesses up, but knows he won't be sacked by the coach because his participation in the Visa campaign earned him permission to be there. "Sorry coach, I just got carried away."

"Alright," a calmer Harbaugh replies as he and the guy lead the team onto the field. "I think we're good."

Morgan Freeman's voiceover then explains, "For a chance to be in a locker room on game day and more, join 'Visa NFL Fans Offers' and make your season epic." (See the full spot here.)

Visa said the campaign and new spots would run through Super Bowl XLVII in February.

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