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Michael Phelps’ golden Olympics means big win for Visa

Matt Schulz

Visa may not have won eight gold medals like Michael Phelps, but those within the credit card company surely must feel like huge winners just for having their product so closely associated with the American swimmer’s phenomenal rise to superstardom.

Ads for Visa followed every Phelps’ victory after he became he became the first person ever to win 10 gold medals in an Olympic career — the spots have been nearly impossible to miss if you’ve watched any of the Olympics at all. Days later, shortly after Phelps won his record-eighth gold medal of the Beijing Games alone, Visa debuted yet another of their sepia-toned, Morgan Freeman-voiced tributes to his accomplishments.

Previously, Phelps had drawn attention for wearing a Visa logo on his swimming cap at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials. Now that Phelps’ work in the pool is done for the time being — word is that he won’t even go back to training again for some six months — Visa and his other sponsors will do their best to keep in the public eye and associated with their brands. Sports Business Journal says “Monday there’s a kickoff sponsored by longtime Phelps partner Visa at the credit card company’s hospitality headquarters at the Prince Jun Palace.” He’ll be doing similar events for other sponsors, including Speedo, which gave Phelps $1 million dollars for winning the eight gold medals. He might even participate in the World Series of Poker.

As for Visa, their chief concern is to ride the Michael Phelps wave as long as they possibly can, all the way to the 2012 London Olympics and beyond.

“He now leaves Beijing as a global sports icon,” Michael Lynch, the global head of sponsorship management for Visa Inc., says in the Washington Post. The Post adds: “Lynch pointed out that Phelps is already omnipresent [in Beijing], his pictures on ATMs and kiosks. The objective of Phelps’s sponsors, Lynch said, is to ‘expand Michael’s presence in other markets.'”

It remains to be seen exactly how the credit card giant intends to do that, but it’s safe to assume that you haven’t seen the last Visa ad featuring America’s latest sports icon.

See related: Visa making most of Michael Phelps’ pursuit of Olympic history; Going to Beijing? Better carry cash

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