Why Visa keeps coming back to TIFF

In addition to balancing its sponsorship portfolio, a second year of a hybrid events has had unexpected benefits for the brand.
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For Visa Canada, 2021 marks its 25th year of partnership with the Toronto International Film Festival and the second as a major sponsor of a socially distanced pandemic festival.

This year, Visa has been running two branded venues for daily film screenings – the Visa Skyline Drive-In Theatre at Ontario place and the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre in downtown Toronto.

Support of local small businesses is once again part of Visa’s activities at the drive-in, where 10 small businesses are involved, including local food and beverage vendors that formed a food truck village. Those efforts are being amplified through paid and organic social on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

“The focus of our social content has really been on promoting the small business partners we’ve been working with – really trying to prop up those small business partners and shining the spotlight on those businesses,” says Kelly Cranston, director of sponsorship marketing at Visa Canada.

As to why Visa keeps coming back to TIFF year after year, Cranston says one of the reasons is to balance its sponsorship portfolio, which includes many large-scale partnerships in the sports realm with the Olympics, FIFA and NFL.

“TIFF gets us into the arts and culture space, which is really important, and a passion point for so many Canadians,” she says. “It’s really enabled us to tap into that and reach a different type of audience. It’s also a huge event in Toronto annually, which is where several of our largest clients are headquartered. It gives us an opportunity to really deliver unique and elevated hosting experiences to some of our major clients, stakeholders and cardholders in the greater Toronto area.”

Cranston didn’t expect to be in the same, virtual festival position as it was last year, but there have been unexpected positive impacts on TIFF and Visa in terms of executing a hybrid festival.

“The evolution to offer digital screenings has enabled TIFF and Visa to reach audiences outside of the GTA and allows audiences across Canada to enjoy digital film screening,” Cranston says. “We’ve been able to reach those audiences through a number of assets on the TIFF digital platform including banner ads as well as our digital trailer, which runs in advance of all digital film screening. It’s been great to reach a broader audience through the TIFF digital evolution.”

Visa worked with BMF, an international event marketing agency, to execute the drive-in while social media
agency Decoded handled the social media campaign. TIFF 2021 runs until September 18.