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Historic Olympic Swim Earns Phelps Congratulatory Commercial From Visa, Fans

By Barry Janoff

August 1, 2012: Visa wasted no time a in compiling and airing a national TV spot congratulating Michael Phelps on setting an Olympic record — and personal messages from fans were included to emphasize the moment.

With Phelps swimming the final lap in the 4 x 200m freestyle relay on July 31 at the 2012 Summer Olympics, he and his three teammates won gold — Phelps' third of the current Games and 19th in his Olympic career. That surpassed the record of 18 career medals set by Russian gymnast Larissa Latynina in 1964.

His three teammates in the event were Ryan Lochte, Connor Dwyer and Ricky Berens.

Visa soon thereafter aired “Congratulations Michael” on NBC, which includes scenes from Phelps' record-setting achievement, past Olympic victories and numerous messages from people around the world, which Visa has been compiling on Facebook and YouTube.

The new spot will go into regular rotation as part of Visa's "Go World" umbrella global campaign, which includes "The Difference" and "100th of a Second," both also featuring Phelps. Lead agency is TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles.

Visa said this marks the first time it has used in national marketing actual videos and photos from fans that were submitted via its Olympic "Cheer" application.

However, it is the financial firm's third spontaneous congratulations TV spot: Visa ran a congratulatory commercial for Phelps following his win in the 200 meter butterfly at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games; then, at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Visa aired a congratulatory spot in the U.S. for Julia Mancuso (skiing), Johnny Spillane (skiing), Angela Ruggiero (ice hockey) and Seth Wescott (snowboarding) and in Canada celebrating the country’s first gold medal on home soil (“First Gold”).

“We’re honored to celebrate Michael Phelps as the most decorated Olympian of all-time and his memorable and historic Olympic Games performance through our real-time 'Go World' congratulatory commercial,” Kevin Burke, global CMO of core products for Visa, said in a statement.

In the spot, actor Morgan Freeman, who has been the Visa voiceover for the Go World campaign, says over shots of Phelps in competition, "Michael Phelps brought the world to its feet in 2004. Eight years and 19 medals later, the world hasn't stopped cheering yet. You just became to most decorated Olympian in history. Congratulations, Michael. From all of us."

The commercial closes with a collage of photos and videos from people who submitted images to Visa, which said it has compiled more than 38 million "cheers" to date. (See the full spot here.)

Phelps' record prior to the 2012 Games included six golds and two bronze medals at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens and eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Visa, which has been an Olympic partner for about 25 years, is supporting 69 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls along with national teams from more than 30 countries. However, the company did not indicate whether another such congratulatory message would air for any of the other members of Team Visa.

“We’re honored to celebrate Michael Phelps as the most decorated Olympian of all-time through our real-time 'Go World' congratulatory commercial."

According to Burke, “We’ve collected tens of millions of cheers from fans around the world for Team Visa athletes, including Michael, and are thrilled to feature some of these expressions of support to underscore the impact that cheering has on inspiring athletes to achieve unforgettable performances at the Olympic Games.”

In addition to Visa, other global partners of the International and U.S. Olympic Committees are Acer, Atos, Coca-Cola, Dow, GE, McDonald's, Omega, Panasonic, P&G and Samsung.

Visa Honors Michael Phelps In 100th Of A Second

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