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MasterCard’s Priceless Sponsorship

Warc, August 24, 2016

MasterCard, the payments firm, is shifting its sponsorship strategy away from being a "dumb buyer" and towards co-creating unique partnerships and experiences – a move based in part on meeting the needs of millennials.

Raja Rajamannar, MasterCard's Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, argued the sponsorship and partnership efforts around its "Priceless" positioning now extend well beyond logo placement, signage and pre-release ticket sales.

"When we look at our sponsorships and partnerships," he said at IEG's 2016 Sponsorship Conference, "what we are trying to do is not just be a dumb buyer who says, ‘Here is the money,' and then cut a cheque.

"We are looking to be a true partner, which means we have to co-create things." (For more including further details of the company's partnership strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: MasterCard rebuilds Priceless sponsorship programs.)

Drilling down into this subject, he stated that the brand has identified nine passion points, ranging from music and sports to entertainment, travel and food, and is creating bespoke experiences in each of these areas.

"Our whole idea is to drive conversations, but, of course, listening as well as doing something about it in real time," Rajamannar continued.

"We want to be an active player in the entire program of how the game is organised. Or how the artist goes about a concert. We don't just want to be a participant in the ecosystem. We want to be a real player in the ecosystem."

The motivation behind this approach is partly premised on the habits and behaviours of millennials – a digitally-empowered audience that is marketing-savvy, bombarded with messages and hard to reach for extended periods of time.

"Even if you engage them ... it's really difficult to sustain it. And every single time something new is coming at them, it recedes into the background," said Rajamannar.

As such, truly distinct experiences offer one way for MasterCard to stand out by offering very tangible, and attractive, benefits to cardholders.

"The implication [for marketers] is that good old advertising and promotional techniques don't work as effectively as they used to do," Rajamannar said. "To cut through the clutter and connect with the consumer is an extremely difficult proposition."