Risk & Reward: VISA’s Olympic Sponsorship.

Three weeks ago we ran through the companies sponsoring the London 2012 Olympics. Now we are starting to hear whether their investments have paid off.
VISA have been the first to reveal the answer, with numbers released yesterday for the first week of the Games.

As one of the Worldwide Olympic Partners (the most expensive advertising tier), VISA and others made a bold decision to invest a combined £700 million to associate their brands with London 2012. This equates to roughly $1.1 billion, or over 4 billion UAE Dirhams – from 55 partners.

Sharing Tier One status are 10 other advertisers, global brands with different business interests. Of all 55 companies backing the Games, none compete directly with VISA – who enjoy exclusive rights as Worldwide Partners.

Money well spent?

VISA is the only credit card accepted in any London 2012 venues, and VISA’s bosses are crediting the feel-good factor the Olympics are generating with some exceptional results.

Visitors spent in excess of £450 million with their VISA cards during the first week of the Olympic Games, a spike of around 8% compared with the same week last year. VISA transactions at restaurants alone have surged 20% on last year, to £12.7 million, while theatre and other entertainment tickets bought through VISA have more than doubled to £5.3 million as extra Olympics tickets went on general sale.

Where does risk fit within your strategy?

Taking risks is an essential ingredient in many successful businesses – not least the Virgin Group, where in part it has come to define the brand.


In 2010 Richard Branson wrote in Entrepreneur magazine,

To many people, the number and variety of businesses that the Virgin Group operates is unusual: We’re involved in everything from music to railways to alternative-fuel development. People often ask me to explain the rationale for our group’s approach, especially how we decide which sectors and countries to invest in. It comes down to our distinct approach to risk …

… Over the years, my colleagues and I have developed quite a reputation for risk-taking. It’s true that we have been fearless about taking on new businesses, sectors and challenges even when the so-called experts told us that we did not know what we were doing.

But while, to all appearances, we do have an unusually high tolerance for risk, our actions always spring from another principle: Always protect the downside. I think it should be a guideline for every entrepreneur — or anyone involved in business ventures …

… We just make sure we always have a way out if things go wrong. You have to protect your people. It’s people who make a company exceptional or average.

So, if things don’t work out, don’t hesitate: take that escape hatch. That way, when all’s said and done, you will be able to gather your team, discuss what happened and then embark on your next venture together.


For us, taking manageable, calculated risks is part of our marketing activities. We think constant experimentation is really important in marketing – testing is the only way you find out which ideas work well, and which ideas are best avoided.

In the past year alone, mecs has invested significantly in different forms of marketing – both financially and in terms of time and effort.


  • We entered a 6-month agreement with a leading SEO company.
  • Brought in Google Adwords Pay Per Click advertising campaigns.
  • We invested heavily in our own printed profile (a 32-page brochure).
  • The new look we introduced for 2012 required fresh stationery, which we produced on premium Fedrigoni papers.
  • Started delivering brochures to key prospects via FedEx courier.
  • This website was redesigned with new software, making the leap to an entirely different platform.
  • Increased our social media presence and activity.
  • Upgraded our CRM (customer relationship management) software to a paid, cloud-based service – giving us more email marketing options.


Each of these efforts has worked with varying degrees of success. Some have proven expensive and were quickly dropped, others continue to be part of our ongoing marketing efforts.

This experimentation always involves some form of risk, but is a necessary part of doing business. In our case, the upside of taking such risks is not only a crop of successful strategies that work for our company, but gives us real experience which ends up greatly benefiting our clients.


In this video Mark Simons, CEO of Toshiba America Information Systems, discusses how a business can go from good to great by not being afraid of failure and by taking risks – and learning from mistakes.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012

Leave a Reply