How Visa Used Waze To Drive Awareness During — And Beyond — The Rio Olympics

Visa aimed to raise brand awareness in the Rio market by delivering Olympic-themed 'Zero-speed' Takeovers to drivers when they were at a complete stop.

August’s Rio Olympics may seem like a distant memory to spectators and viewers, but to brands and the tech marketing companies working with them, the insights are just coming in.

Driving navigation app Waze provided several examples of how it tied its global marketing reach to its broad Olympics-focused marketing programs both in the US and in Rio during the games.

While it can be difficult to tie a brand’s fortunes to such an intensely viewed event — in essence, advertisers are practically competing for the same spectators’ limited attention — Waze showed how it could command interest without interrupting the main event among the 1 million visitors.

Since use of the Waze app spiked between midnight and 5am, the Google-owned company was able to demonstrate its resonance with consumers leading an active nightlife throughout the festivities — and at least for those moments, no one was distracted by the athletic competitions.

Credit card provider Visa took advantage of driving navigation app Waze’s Olympics marketing programs in Rio to increase brand awareness in the Brazilian city by delivering Olympic-themed Zero-speed Takeovers to drivers when they were at a complete stop.

In general, when major events like the Olympics take place, Waze becomes even more important to helping drivers through their traffic and purchase decisions, a Waze rep told GeoMarketing. In fact, Waze’s data from the Rio Olympics shows that among the most trafficked destinations in Brazil, four categories are related to businesses: airports, restaurants, hotels, and retail.

Visa ensured their payment option was top of mind for drivers throughout the festivities as they went about their day — Waze now acts as the provider of the best route to your destination and the digital billboard people see along the way.

“Advertisers and marketers want to be a part of major events to drive brand awareness, but many end up lost in the clutter of campaigns,” said Jordan Grossman, Waze’s head of North America Sales. “With Waze, we continue to help brands use the context of a drive to connect with users in real time, enhancing our users’ overall driving experience by providing brands with the opportunity to connect in an authentic way. Brands can also benefit from the driving behavior insights we garnered during the Games to inform strategy on future major traffic event campaigns such as the Super Bowl.”

Visa drives brand awareness in Rio with Waze.The impact on Visa’s marketing was not limited to Rio residents. As Waze noted, among international visitors, Americans had the highest number of navigations in Rio during August, at 51 percent (Portugal trailed in second place at 4.4 percent and France had 4.1 percent).

It’s important to note that Waze is not just focused on getting people from one point to another quickly. Apart from other mapping and navigation platforms, Waze is also a social media app, and the sharing that its 65 million global users do is vastly different from the marketing on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

“Social app adoption is not limited to sharing and consuming content—many apps designed for utility now include social and sharing opportunities,” Ana Sofia Reis and Flavia Rosario write on Waze’s blog, The Compass, in their wider overview of the app’s marketing work during Rio.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.