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Visa Soars Into the Winter Olympics With Sarah Hendrickson and Amelia Earhart


IDEA: All Olympic advertising tries, in some way or other, to soar. BBDO's new spot for Visa does so literally, thanks to U.S. Olympic ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson and legendary aviator Amelia Earhart. For Visa, the parallels between the two, both pioneers of flight, were irresistible—especially since women's ski jumping is finally an Olympic sport.

The spot is part of a campaign introducing Visa's new global positioning, "Everywhere you want to be," a nip-tucked version of its old U.S. tagline, "It's everywhere you want to be." The concept of "everywhere" is meant to be both practical and aspirational. For the company, it's a promise; for the consumer, a state of mind.

"This idea of universality, or everywhere, was something our founder Dee Hock was thinking about in the '50s—that people could exchange value regardless of border or currency," said Visa CMO Kevin Burke. "It's a bigger concept in our future world. It's about being able to pay across any device through any channel. Plus, there's the aspirational side of 'everywhere,' which is the place you want to be and how Visa can help you get there."

COPYWRITING: The spot opens with Hendrickson, 19, lugging her skis to the take-off ramp. Earhart is heard in crackly audio from 1937.

"Please know I'm quite aware of the hazards," she says. "I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failures must be but a challenge to others."

Hendrickson speeds down the ramp and takes off, floating against the snowy mountains and blue sky in quiet slow motion. She adds her own voiceover: "This year, for the first time, women's ski jumping is an Olympic event. Now women get a chance to fly. I'm Sarah Hendrickson, and this is my everywhere." Morgan Freeman then voices the on-screen text: "Visa. Everywhere you want to be."

Earhart "spoke very eloquently, and her words really fit a sport that was just opening itself up to women," said BBDO senior creative director and copywriter Grant Smith. Of the new positioning line, he added, "We really liked the idea of making it personal, and removing the 'It's' seemed to make it more flexible and revitalize it."

FILMING/ART DIRECTION: Michael Spiccia shot the ad in two parts, filming Hendrickson last July at her training facility in Utah and then shooting on a mountaintop in New Zealand to get the winter backgrounds. The Mill seamlessly combined them.

People are used to seeing ski jumping on TV; to grab their attention, the spot uses "camera angles never seen before, like the POV of Sarah going down the ramp or the vertigo-feeling camera placed on the top of the ramp looking down," said BBDO senior cd and art director Danilo Boer.

Just as important: the quiet, meditative moments before the jump, which show Hendrickson not as an elite athlete but as a human being. She did only four jumps at the shoot.

TALENT: Weeks after filming, Hendrickson, the 2013 world champion, suffered a serious knee injury, putting her Sochi 2014 plans at risk. But just this past week, she was named to the team after finally returning to practice. She needed barely any coaching for the voiceover.

SOUND: Audio design was critical. "The sounds of the sport are amazing," Smith said. "The skis on the snow make a singular sound. In the air they act like blades of a helicopter, cutting the air in the same sort of way. Wind through metal—you can hear it." The agency captured much of the sound on site, then enhanced it in post, adding subtle accent tones for added drama.

MEDIA: The :30 launched Jan. 11 on Fox's NFL coverage and will air through the Sochi Games.


Client: Visa
Spot: "Flying"

Agency: BBDO New York
CCO, Worldwide: David Lubars
Executive Creative Director: Toygar Bazarkaya
Executive Creative Director: Don Schneider
SCD/Copywriter: Grant Smith
SCD/Art Director: Danilo Boer
Group Executive Producer: Brian Mitchell
Executive Producer: Amy Wertheimer
Executive Producer: Angelo Ferrugia
Associate Producer: Georgie Turner

Senior Account Director: Olivia Farr
Account Director: Leland Candler
Account Executive: Alicia Cacibauda
Assistant Account Executive: Jennifer Lindelof

Production Company: Arts & Sciences
Director: Michael Spiccia
Director of Photography: Ross Emery
Producer: Ben Scandrett-Smith
Line Producer: Pat Harris

Edit Company: Work Post
Assistant Editor: Ellie McNaughtan
Editor: Rick Orrick
Producer: Corina Dennison
Color: The Mill – London
Colorist: Seamus O'Kane

VFX: The Mill, NY
VFX Supervisor: Angus Kneale
Executive Producer: Verity Grantham
Senior Producer: Rachel Trillo
Lead: Cory Brown

Sound Design: Barking Owl Sound
Executive Producer: Kelly Bayett

Audio Mix: Sound Lounge
Mixer: Tom Jucarone

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