New York Fashion Week, one of the biggest fashion events in the world (arguably number two behind Paris Fashion Week) and the Super Bowl (unquestionably the biggest event in American sports) are two very different events with very different audiences, but there is a common thread.
After all, we all wear clothes, whether we’re a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns or a creative lead at any of the largest holding companies.
Sports and fashion have always been closely linked, and with today's sports stars often doubling as fashion models, Visa quickly saw the opportunity to highlight the link between the two worlds, while also focusing on empowering women in both spaces and beyond.
"It’s a big year for us," said Mary Ann Reilly, SVP, head of North America Marketing at Visa.
You can say that again.
Just days after the Super Bowl, Reilly and her team were in New York for their fourth appearance at NYFW, while simultaneously prepping for the summer Olympics in Tokyo.
An impressive turnaround indeed.
But the financial services company didn’t want to launch a series of one-and-done activations, instead opting to have a series of meaningful experiences at each event, with female empowerment a central theme throughout.
During the Super Bowl, Visa teamed up with New York Giants running back Saquan Barkley to showcase its contactless tap-to-pay technology all around Miami.
One of his stops included the iconic, woman-owned CheeseBurger Baby restaurant.
And Barkley did more than just stop for a bite, he actually jumped behind the register alongside Stephanie Vitori, owner of the burger shop.
For NYFW, Visa brought Barkley back for a panel discussing the importance of supporting women-owned businesses alongside Carissa Moore, one of the members of the first U.S. Olympic women’s surfing team, and functional fashion designer, Cynthia Rowley.
The event also featured an installation and pop-up shop created in collaboration with woman-owned media platform, Style of Sport, with a focus on contactless payment.
"This is more than just a sponsorship," said Leslie Russo, executive vice president, IMG.
"The brilliance is where all these things intersect. Fashion is the one common thread that cuts through all of them."
"What does Odell Beckham Jr., Megan Rapinoe, and Michael Phelps have in common besides sports- fashion," she said.
"We look at our customer base and say what are the big passion points we can connect to and create great experiences for our consumers and our clients," Reilly said.
"We do that with the Super Bowl, with the Olympics, and with FIFA, so actually we’re the only brand [of our type] that does work with the three most watched sporting events in the world, and then we also sponsor the U.S. women’s national team. We saw the opportunity to help with their quest for equality, and that’s what we wanted to do," she added.