Representing a milestone date in Russia’s Olympic Winter Games preparations, the country celebrated February 7, 2013 as the one year out mark to the official start of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. The Opening Ceremony for the Sochi Olympic Winter Games will take place on the same date in 2014 and the Sochi Organizing Committee marked the occasion by hosting countdown clock unveiling ceremonies in eight cities across Russia. The day’s festivities concluded at the Olympic “Bolshoi” Ice Dome in Sochi with a colorful ice show and a ceremony in which Jacques Rogge, Head of the International Olympic Committee, formally invited the nations of the world to come to Sochi for the Games of 2014.
The Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi is ready to step into the spotlight as host of the world’s next major sporting event after the London 2012 Olympic Games. As part of its preparations for the Games, Visa and its partners are on-the-ground working with merchants and the Olympic Committee to help ensure that Russia plays host to the greatest winter games ever. Dmitry Chernyshenko, President, Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, discusses how payments will play a central role in the Olympic experience of Russian citizens, as well as the tens of thousands of international visitors that will descend on Sochi and other key tourism destinations throughout Russia.
It is the place where the eyes of the world will be turned in 2014—where dreams will be fulfilled, where flags will be raised, and where anthems played.
It was hard not feel the weight of history when we got an exclusive tour of the Olympic park in Sochi. Rather than keep the experience to ourselves, we thought we would share a glimpse with our blog readers as well.
The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are just two years away, and the preparation is well underway. Cranes and tractors across the vast Olympic Park are working nonstop to erect the arenas, rinks, and raceways. Electro-pop seems to be the theme song of progress, echoing across wide, open ice rinks—working music for the crews using soldering irons to install the infrastructure.
We got to see the main Olympic arenas being pieced together. The future hockey rink.
The speed skating rink.
The new ski lift.
The future ski jumps.
We were grateful for the grand tour from Tatiana “Tanya” Sanders, our colleague who is the head of Visa Acceptance in Russia and CIS and will be overseeing Visa’s work in helping to prepare Sochi’s payment infrastructure for the big games. She gave us a few minutes of her time to not only shoot a Currency of Progress video (stay tuned for the completed video) but also to give a sense of how things are going.
Greetings from the city that will host the next winter Olympics! Yes, we said winter, which might surprise you based on the picture above. Indeed one of the charming aspects about this Russian town is the diverse range of climates—tall snowcapped mountains not far from the sunny seashore.
We have traveled from San Francisco to Sochi with the mission of seeing how preparations for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are progressing. Most important, we came to see how Visa’s work on the ground is helping seed a robust acceptance infrastructure for cardholders from around the world. The Russian government and the Sochi administrators are eager to ensure the Olympic preparations are not only about making the two-week games run smoothly; it’s about creating an infrastructure that will revitalize the entire region.
We spoke to Alexander Kuyrilenko who runs a souvenir shop on the Sochi boardwalk. In preparation for the Olympic Games, many merchants are bracing themselves for the influx of visitors by setting up systems to accept payment cards. Alexander, however, is one of the merchants who has already done so and seen the benefits.
He is also one of many merchants already getting in the Olympic spirit by selling all sorts of logo wear. Here is just one stand with Olympic fanfare.
And these bears even strut the Visa logo as part of our official sponsorship of the Games.
Meeting Alexander and seeing how he has incorporated Visa into his life personified the reason we work at this company—to make people’s lives better. Whether it’s helping merchants boost their sales or helping an Olympic enthusiast buy a bear—cards are helping real people in Sochi. And it’s a gold-medal feeling.
On day three of our business trip to Moscow, Russia, we had the rare opportunity of visiting the organizing headquarters for the Sochi Olympics 2014. The building lies in a busy part of central Moscow on a narrow offshoot from the busy main streets. Once upstairs, we were ushered through a busy hallway to a conference room decked out with many trophies, a long glass table and large maps of Sochi’s future Olympic park.
It was hard to imagine that I was standing in the building where the planning for one of the world’s biggest sports events was taking place.
The purpose of our visit was to interview Dmitry Chernyshenko, the man who was head of Sochi’s Olympic bid committee and is now head of the planning committee. Visa has, after all, been a top sponsor for the Olympic Games for years now, and our company is now partnering with the Olympic organizing committee to prepare the city with the electronic payment infrastructure to host the Games.
What clearly came across from my interview was Mr. Chernyshenko’s passion for the Olympic Games and his commitment to his native city of Sochi. He was quick to point out that he will consider the Games a success if the infrastructure he helps implement makes an impact that lasts long after the Olympic torch goes out.
Today, in fact, we travel to Sochi to see the spot itself. So stay tuned for more postcards from Sochi and, in the coming weeks, a full mini-documentary about the preparation for the next Olympic Games.
As a sponsor of the London 2012 Olympic Games and a company that has been involved with the Olympic movement for over 26 years, Visa is a passionate supporter of the athletes that compete. To show out support of Team Visa, we have produced videos that introduced you to athletes like Chinese tennis player Li Na and even videos of athletes thanking you for your amazing cheers!
But during the Olympics, some of our most popular videos have been those Visa created in real time to congratulate the athletes for their successes at the Olympic Games. When Canadian diver Emilie Heymans competed and medaled in her first Olympics, we produced a video entitled “Congratulations Emilie” that ran on Canadian television within a matter of hours. This was followed up by similar ads for medalists Michael Phelps and Mark Oldershaw, among others.
We sat down with Kevin Burke, CMO of Core Products at Visa, to understand the strategy and planning required to create the ads and get them broadcast on TV–all in 4-6 hours from the time a Team Visa athlete wins a medal.
For Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, the London 2012 Olympic Games meant another chance to play together, another chance to win close matches and another trip to the medal stand to be awarded their third straight Olympic gold medal in women’s beach volleyball.
With the London 2012 Olympic Games well underway, Visa’s presence in London can be seen at every turn. There have been a lot of conversations about the role of sponsorship around an event of truly “Olympic” proportions. It takes a lot of planning and hard work across many teams at Visa–and the hard work is not going unrecognized. A report out today from Brand Interactive entitled “Winning Olympic Sponsors” puts Visa well ahead of other Olympic sponsors in public perception of our brand due to large part to successes in Visa TV spots and social media wins.
We caught up with Kevin Burke, Chief Marketing Officer of Core Products at Visa, to gain insight into the value that sponsorship of the Olympics offers to Visa and the details the are involved with supporting one of the largest global events in 2012.
One of Kevin’s favorite locations in London to see the great visuals that comprise the Visa sponsorship campaign is at Westfield Shopping Center, which hosts a great digital interactive billboard and stories-high images of Team Visa athletes.
6 medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games. 22 total medals in his Olympic career. Multiple current swimming world records. So what do you get the man who has (almost) everything?
For Team Visa athlete Michael Phelps, we thought it would be fun to design and present him with a customized Visa Debit card to celebrate the many accomplishments of the man who changed the sport of swimming forever.
So “Good Luck” Michael, and enjoy the Visa card to finally see some of the sights around London! [Or to get a head start on fine-tuning your golf game....]
In town to showcase the future of mobile payments at the London 2012 Olympic Games, we caught up with Visa’s Head of Global Mobile Products Bill Gajda to get his perspective on mobile innovation, address questions around security and even do a live demo at a local store.
I caught up with Mandy Lamb, Visa’s South African Country Manager, who was at the games cheering on several athletes representing her country, including Team Visa athletes, Paralympic swimmer Natalie Du Toit and BMX rider Sifiso Nhlapo. During our chat she shared her perspective on the future of payment technology in South Africa, including mobile and digital wallets and discussed key factors shaping the landscape for the payments in her country.
With a large number of unbanked individuals around the world, Mandy also spoke about how mobile technology has offered a new platform to deliver payments to individuals who never had prior banking relationships. Particularly, she talks about combining Visa’s local market focus with our leadership in innovation to offer solutions that are appropriate for both developed and emerging economies.