Questions for Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Mastercard
Mastercard has started an ambitious project with the Start Something Priceless initiative. How did the Start Something Priceless movement come to be? What was the driving force behind the idea?
There were two main points of inspiration that led us to Start Something Priceless. Firstly, with Priceless turning twenty last year we started to think about what would be next. We’ve learned over the years that connecting with consumers in a meaningful way, through the things they care about most, has been key to its endurance. During our planning, we saw how our company and culture had really transformed. We are now a company that thrives on doing well and doing good. Whether through our inclusive growth efforts, digital identity programs, or our partnership with the World Food Programme, being purpose-driven has now permeated throughout our entire company and into everything we do.
Secondly, when we looked at consumers, we saw new cultural truths emerging. 80+ percent of people globally believe that brands have the power to make the world better, and what’s more, they expect brands to have a point of view and should stand up boldly for what they believe in. We took these points of inspiration and said, now is the time to evolve Priceless moments into Priceless movements and infuse it into everything we do.
Who is the movement aimed towards? What is the ultimate goal of the Start Something Priceless call to action?
What we are trying to do, unlike before, is to create a movement around Priceless – to inspire people everywhere to pursue their passion or purpose, to Start Something Priceless. Whether big or small, from committing to putting your phones away at dinner time to have conversations with your family, to adopting a dog at a shelter, or even something bigger that could help change the world, we want to inspire people and communities everywhere.
For example, Start Something Priceless will shine a light on how passions like music and sports can help people overcome personal challenges and confront bias to pursue their dreams and transform adversity into strength. You’ll see this coming to life through two of our sponsorship activations – the GRAMMY Awards and the UEFA Champions League.
Being such a well-known entity in the payments industry, Mastercard has a strong reputation with its partners and its customers. How would this new ideal of Start Something Priceless affect those relationships, whether through uncovering experiences or creating opportunities?
As chief marketing and communications officer for Mastercard, I am very proud and humbled to be leading one of the world’s most valuable brands. Our brand is a key differentiator and critical factor for anyone who is looking to partner and do business with us. When you’re developing a campaign you look at three pillars: How do you strengthen the brand, how do you drive the business, and how do you establish a competitive differentiation? Start Something Priceless is a great confluence of brand strategy, company purpose and personal passion, we believe our new platform will resonate with our customer and partner efforts and we are already getting fabulous feedback and interest.
Now, taking a step back, Priceless has always been about experiences over things. For the first 16 years, we observed Priceless moments in people’s lives and celebrated them mainly through traditional advertising. Then four years back, with initiatives like Priceless Cities and Priceless Surprises, we started to enable some extraordinary experiences for the 1.7 billion consumers who carry our brand with them every day – many campaigns co-created with our customers and partners involved. These renewed marketing efforts, have proven to not only strengthen our brand, but also our business. We have demonstrated that engaging with Priceless increases the likelihood of more Mastercard usage, spend, and overall make people think more highly of Mastercard. Now, with Start Something Priceless, we want to go further. We want to inspire priceless in people’s lives, and we see a world of opportunity for our customers and partners to get involved.
I read about the interactive billboards erected in Paris to help make an impact against poverty and provide school meals to those in need. Does Mastercard have anything like that planned for the United States? What kind of initiatives can we expect to see from Mastercard in the coming year?
We currently have plans to bring the donation billboards to our offices in the United States, so our employees too can experience and easily take part in the Start Something Priceless movement.
But also in the United States, we have a long-standing relationship with Stand Up To Cancer. For more than seven years, we have been helping to make a difference in cancer research. During our annual summer dining out campaign, every time a consumer chooses to pay with their Mastercard we donate a small amount. So far we have raised over $40 million for cancer research. In addition to just simply dining out, we also partner with our customers to create what we call Priceless Tables in some extraordinary places like in the middle of a major league baseball field or on Ellis Island, or Carnegie Hall, where like-minded consumers not only enjoy an amazing meal experience, but also feel good knowing all the proceeds go to a fantastic organization like Stand Up To Cancer. The success of our partnership has been remarkable, thanks, in part, to its longevity, the fact that people know what to expect and a mutual understanding of the collective impact they are making. Whether it’s the donation billboard or a Priceless table, simple answer is yes, you can certainly expect more from us in the coming year.
Lastly, what you’ve set up here with Start Something Priceless and the GRAMMY Awards is absolutely amazing. Are there any other events that Mastercard has its eye on for future collaborations?
Absolutely. We are only getting started with Start Something Priceless! You can expect to see some fantastic campaigns, experiences, and activations across many of our major sponsorship properties, including the BRIT Awards in London next month, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rugby World Cup, Cannes Film Festival, Major League Baseball, and many more.