Visa and Sportsnet pair on live lead-in ad unit

The recent ad unit integrates actual live gameplay with the made-in-Canada creative.
Live Lead In

Rogers Media recently created what it says is a Canadian first: a live integration broadcast television commercial.

The new ad format, created by Sportsnet in a partnership with Visa, begins with a Sportsnet NHL Playoffs promo spot before segueing into a Visa ad featuring a father and daughter watching said commercial on their own TV. The narrative of the ad changes into the pair ordering food and trying to find enough change for the order, with Visa’s messaging taking over.

At the end of the commercial, the focus turns back to the family TV, which is playing live coverage of the game in progress. The commercial then transitions directly back into the game.

Anthony Attard, VP of media sports and NHL sales with Rogers Media, says the broadcaster had seen similar executions south of the border with a recent Major League Baseball World Series integration and instantly knew that it had to create something in the same vein.

“We wanted to incorporate something that is unique and captivates our audience, is entertaining and makes sure the audience understands the messaging. The messaging had to be about how Visa powers the back-end transactions that takes place in our lives, but they also wanted something that would resonate alongside the content.”

Visa has been a longtime NHL partner for Sportsnet, and Attard says like all advertising partners, “they face the same challenges we do. We all want to grow an audience and retain that audience. Often, that comes down to what happens on the court, on the ice or on the field.”

Heather Nobes, senior director of consumer credit and sponsorship marketing at Visa, tellsĀ MiCĀ that discussions began in the fall, and that on top of the unique TV integration, there was a broader media campaign focused on brand awareness. The digital campaign launched in early March, and once the Playoffs began, Visa focused on three areas: fans checking stats prior to the game (through pre-roll on NHL.com and other sports sites), people watching the game (the live integration) and those checking post-game highlights online (additional digital advertising).

The spot was created to air during the last commercial break of the second period during key games. Visa worked closely with Sportsnet itself, although it did procure the media spot through its agency Starcom.

Nobes says Visa’s TV spend this year is on par with where it was last year, although some other media are “working harder” than TV by reaching different target audiences with less spend, she notes.

In addition to the live lead-in commercial, Visa also created a TV spot with similar messaging focused on online payment, featuring Toronto Maple Leafs stars Mitch Marner and William Nylander. However, that spot did not feature the live lead-in integration. Both spots will continue to air throughout the remainder of the Playoffs. The spots (with creative spearheaded by BBDO) also feature a unique voice behind them; the recently retired Bob Cole as the narrator.

According to Sportsnet, the commercial’s airing during rounds one and two of the Playoffs reached 18.9 million Canadians.

Attard says Sportsnet will continue to look at new opportunities and may potentially re-use the live integration format, but “we don’t want to overdo this one, which was very unique to Visa.”