Corporate Eye

The Olympics, VISA and Michael Phelps

Three brands, one commercial series — the Olympics, VISA and Michael Phelps

In the United States, three brands have dominated television this summer – the Olympics, VISA and Michael Phelps.  I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the commercials that feature the branding threesome and see what Corporate Eye readers think about them.

First up, the VISA, Michael Phelps, Olympics commercial played frequently just before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.  Click here to watch it.

Next, the VISA, Michael Phelps, Olympics commercial played when Michael Phelps broke the record of for the most Olympic gold medals ever won by a single person.  Click here to watch it.

Finally, the VISA, Michael Phelps, Olympics commercial played after Michael Phelps broke the record for the most Olympic gold medals won in a single Olympic Games.  Click here to watch it.

So what do you think?  I think all three brands are consistently portrayed, and together, they communicate a message of power, strength and idealism, which translates nicely for VISA in terms of giving its brand a boost.  I think the overexposed, gold lighting in the 2008 commercials works well, and of course, you’ve got to love Morgan Freeman’s voice overs in those ads. 

When I first saw the dolphin ad before the Olympics began, I wasn’t impressed, but together, the series works.  The consistency is what makes the ads stand out as successful from a branding perspective.  I’m not sure if people will run out and get a VISA card or use their VISA cards more as a result of the commercials, particularly since Olympic brand sponsorship has become saturated and holds less meaning than it did years ago. 

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

I certainly won’t purchase anything Michael Phelps endorses. He signed contracts with morals clauses and should lose a large amount of money for violating those clauses. If nothing happens to him and he comes out of this smelling like a rose, what kind of message does that send to kids in the Tony the Tiger cereal eating age range?

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