Visa to ’embed’ startups in marketing teams

Visa is looking to bring in startups to work with its Asia marketing team at the strategy stage of campaigns, the firm’s APAC CMO said yesterday.

Freddie Covington of Visa:

Freddie Covington of Visa: ‘I hear a lot of talk about us and them’

Talking on a panel at the launch event for NextTechNow, Frederique Covington, who was appointed APAC CMO of Visa in May, said that her company was working with Publicis Media’s play to bring startups closer to clients to work out how to revitalise Visa’s approach to marketing.

“Traditionally, marketing is developed by the client, then the agency comes in. What if we could apply the principle of a hackathon,” said the former Twitter and Microsoft marketer.

“At the beginning of a campaign, bringing in folks who might be our customers, tweens or travellers, and asking them to hack the idea with us,” she explained.

“We’re going to discuss that with NextTechNow what rhythm we’re going to do it in, how feasible is it, open and break, and let people co-create with us from the very beginning.”

“We’ve been thinking about doing ‘markathons’. We have people embedded in our marketing teams who are constantly challenging what we’re doing. If it’s just once a year, asking students what they think of my work, that’s a fail.

She later commented: “It’s not about what kind of media we’re going to buy anymore, that time has gone. For us now, we’re thinking do we invest in a deal with a data partner, so we’ll then get a holistic understanding of the user, rather than doing a media buy,” she said.

Visa, in February, declared itself a technology platform when it opened up some of its payments systems in the hope of developing new financial products. Covington said Visa was not looking to find unicorns, but “cockroaches” – startups with endurance.

“We certainly want to find those cockroaches, those disruptions that will stay for the long term. What’s interesting for us as a company is that there is so much about Visa that is not well known. We’re not a credit card company, we don’t issue any credit cards. We’re a technology platform.”

“When Visa called me [about the CMO job] that was the first question I had: why do you want to speak to someone like me, I’m from tech, you guys are a bank.”

Covington later joined a heated debate about how startups should best work with big corporates.

She said: “I hear a lot of talk about us and them. Where we need to be is more the ‘us’. Forget the projects. If a startup thing is a project or an experiment, it’s going to fail. The way to think about it is really the ‘us’.”


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