Our man at the Olympic Games

October 2016

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I’ve always dreamed of competing at the Olympics.

During high school, I began to realise there were plenty of people who were bigger, stronger and faster than me. Suddenly I had a much more achievable dream; attend the Olympics as a spectator.

As it turns out my dream came true when I won a Visa competition hosted by ZM. All I had to do was compete against seven other finalists to prove I’m Valerie Adams’ biggest fan. I may not be an Olympic champion, but I’m an Olympic Champion’s biggest fan, and that’s good enough for me – especially when it comes with a free trip to Rio de Janeiro.

As it turns out, watching the Olympics seems a lot more fun than competing. While some athletes were madly pedalling around the velodrome and following strict diets, I was attempting to eat all-you-can-eat buffets out of business, tasting a varied selection of Brazilian drinks and viewing the events comfortably from the stands.

Aside from highly trained athletes pushing their bodies to the pinnacle physical achievement, the Olympics are all about one thing; branding. Since its beginnings in ancient Greece, the Olympic Games have become an event worth billions. People from all over the world flock to the Games and many more watch at home on their TVs. In 2016 all eyes were fixed on Rio and brands paid a premium to be recognised as sponsors.

The official Olympics website says, “The Olympic Games are one of the most effective international marketing platforms in the world, reaching billions of people in over 200 countries and territories throughout the world”. Not a bad sales pitch – reaching billions rather than millions would certainly grab the attention of the world’s biggest global brands.

My favourite global sponsor was Visa, mainly because it provided flights for my fiancée and me, put us up in a fancy hotel right on Copacabana Beach, shouted tickets to the Games and even covered spending money. Thanks guys, I owe you one!

Rio was covered head-to-toe in Visa’s official dark blue. Its branding occupied billboards, road signs, food stalls, stadiums and an army of employees holding glowing Visa signs. There was literally dozens of uniformed Visa staff wherever we went and they escorted us to each event, took us up to see Christ The Redeemer and helped us with any request no matter how small. I felt like I’d entered a dream world, if only life was as easy as being hosted by Visa.

Part of my prize included watching my hero Valerie Adams win a silver medal. I was actually sitting next to her husband in the stands where we cheered and screamed on behalf of all New Zealanders. I know Valerie’s disappointed to have missed the gold, but she’s one of the greatest Olympians ever and we are so proud of her. 

After getting back to New Zealand Visa arranged for me to meet Valerie in person. Start to finish they made sure my experience was second to none. Visa not only used the Olympics to expose the brand to billions of people across the world, they also used the power of their sponsorship to reward some of their customers with an unforgettable experience.

So, I’d highly recommend winning an all-expenses paid luxury trip to the Olympic Games. Cheers to our incredible Kiwi athletes who competed in Rio; you did us proud!

Jack