Visa rebranded with the purpose of helping people reach their goals to be “everywhere you want to be.” To explain the meaning, we looked to align with inspirational and celebratory moments in culture, like supporting Michael Sam in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Michael Sam was set to become the first openly gay player in the NFL. In an ideal world, this should not be a story, but we all knew it would be politicized as much more.

To steer the news cycle the right way, we had to guide the conversation to a story that embodied both Visa’s new positioning and Michael Sam’s true goal: to play football in the NFL.

Our strategy was to twist the expectations of the audience and media, treating him like any other NFL athlete, cheered and booed, judged for his flaws and feats, but only as a football player on the field.

As the clock started in the NFL Draft, Visa’s Michael Sam film was launched through social channels and an exclusive. The message immediately struck a chord spreading across news, sports, pop culture, and LGBT channels.

By the end of the Draft coverage, Visa received 49MM total impressions from PR and social media. Positive online sentiment of all brand conversation was 47%, compared to 4% positive sentiment for Visa’s entire NFL campaign from last year– signifying a huge shift in support for Visa’s brand beliefs and willingness to take a stand on an important issue.

Using Format