Mastercard Marketing

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Mastercard Marketing and Communication Strategies

MasterCard's brand and communication strategy is heavily focused on the digital realms both internally and externally and they are finding innovative ways to market their brand digitally to consumers. The company aims to keep its marketing communications consistent across the world, with the overall goal of increasing their brand preference and usage among consumers.


  • MasterCard notes that they promote their brands via sponsorships, promotions, and advertising.
  • MasterCard sponsors events (sports, entertainment, and charity) as a key marketing tactic.
  • In 2018, MasterCard spent a total of $907 million on advertising and marketing.
  • The company increased their marketing and advertising expenses by 18% in 2018, up from an 11% increase in 2017.
  • Internally, MasterCard's marketing teams appear to collaborate with their customer success and sales teams when developing their marketing strategies.
  • MasterCard appears to rely on account-based marketing and lead generation as a part of their marketing strategy.
  • When thinking of positioning/messaging and advertising content, MasterCard appears to focus on articulating the benefits of their products and increasing consumer comprehension of how their products work.
  • MasterCard appears to rely on the use of an internal knowledge base to help inform their marketing efforts.
  • MasterCard aims to keep their messaging consistent across all of their marketing channels.
  • Sometimes MasterCard relies on the use of third-parties and agencies when it comes to their marketing content development.
  • The company appears to rely on the use of marketing automation programs in order to "drive inbound marketing leads and manage leads/accounts through the sales funnel." Specifically, the company also uses Salesforce to analyze their and track their marketing efforts and prospects.
  • MasterCard recently decided to remove their name from their brand logo in an effort to reduce the noise/clutter of their brand, in response to the trend of consumer over stimulation. Instead, the company will allow its 50-year-old graphic logo design of interlocking circles to "speak for itself" as the company has noted the design is recognizable to more than 80% of consumers. The move also appears to be an effort to align with the new generation of consumers.


  • Mastercard's annual reports not that they operate in digital, mobile, and social media channels when it comes to their marketing.
  • A job description for a marketing director at MasterCard notes the use of the following marketing channels: "websites, landing pages, digital campaigns, lead nurture programs, and product materials."
  • A key focus of Mastercard's marketing strategy is to expand it's 'Priceless' brand identity across new platforms.
  • MasterCard notes that they communicate their brand through their 'Priceless' branded ecosystems, including Priceless Cities, Priceless Causes, Priceless Surprises, and Priceless Specials and their Priceless advertising campaign.
  • One of Mastercard's key marketing channels is their Priceless Surprises platform, where MasterCard cardholders can receive surprise rewards such as song downloads, event ticket upgrades, meet and greet events with celebrities, etc. The platform is now active in 30 countries and has provided hundreds of thousands of surprise rewards since the platform was launched in 2014.
  • MasterCard also runs a point-of-sale marketing program called 'Priceless Causes', which is focused on allowing customers to support charitable causes via their everyday spending.


  • Mastercard's 2018 annual report notes that the goal of their marketing efforts is to "increase people's preference for [their] brands and usage of [their] products."
  • The goal of Mastercard's sponsorship initiatives is to "align with consumer segments important to [the company] and [their] customers," according to the company.
  • MasterCard states that building their brand visibility, usage, and "overall performance among account holders" is a key driver of their advertising initiatives.
  • The goal of Mastercard's 'Priceless' campaign is to "promote MasterCard usage benefits and acceptance, [to market] MasterCard payment products and solutions, [and to provide] MasterCard with a consistent recognizable message that supports [their] brand around the globe." The campaign runs in 120 countries.
  • The company relies on a number of marketing software programs in an effort to keep their marketing activities efficient and effective.
  • One of the overarching goals of Mastercard's marketing strategy is to provide a "consistent, recognizable message that supports [their] brand around the globe."


To begin this research, MasterCard's annual report was first consulted to pull out any relevant insights concerning their marketing strategy and the channels used. This resource was relied on because it is the most credible and detailed resource which analyzes Mastercard's marketing efforts. However, it should be noted here that the insights contained within the annual report are relevant to Mastercard's global business as a whole, and therefore not necessarily exclusive to the United States segment.

Overall, there was a bit of a lack of U.S.-exclusive insights across all resources that discuss MasterCard's marketing efforts. One reason for this may be that MasterCard's marketing strategy seems to focus heavily on consistency across geographic markets, as noted in the research findings above. However, in our effort to look for some insight about Mastercard's marketing strategy that was more specific to the United States, we came across a job posting on the MasterCard website for a marketing director position in the United States and were able to analyze it to ascertain some of Mastercard's marketing strategy. The company's Corporate Story page on their website also proved to be useful in locating direct insights from the company about their marketing strategies, along with insights from Forbes.
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Mastercard Campaign Timeline

Mastercard's campaigns can run from one day such as the "Make It A Date" Campaign to 22 years, as is the case with its 22-year iconic Priceless campaign.


  • Mastercard's Priceless campaign started in 1997.
  • Priceless is Mastercard's iconic campaign that spans 22 years.
  • Mastercard connected its different marketing efforts through a set of pillars: Priceless Cities, Priceless Surprises, Priceless Causes, and Priceless Specials.
  • The campaign lasted for two decades.




  • This campaign leverages the role of #10 athletes (Lionel Messi and Neymar da Silva Santos Jr) to inspire their fans.
  • These two Mastercard ambassadors invite their followers to join the movement to stop hunger by making symbolic gestures and sharing it on social media using the hashtag #TogetherWeAre10.
  • The campaign started on April 10, 2018, and will end after two years.




We could not triangulate the typical timeline of a Mastercard campaign because the duration of the campaigns found were too far apart ranging from one day to 22 years. We have performed these strategies below.

First, we searched for Mastercard campaign case studies and strategy analysis. Usually, these studies would give a general insight into the typical start and end of campaigns. We searched for advertising websites such as Adweek, Adage, among others. We also searched in WARC and Effie for case studies hoping to find insights. Unfortunately, there were no articles found that directly specify the average duration or the typical timeline of Mastercards'campaigns. We were only able to find articles that talk about the 22 years campaign, "Priceless."

Next, we searched for interviews with the chief marketing officer of Mastercard. We hoped to find any mentions of their typical campaign stunts and how long they typically do them. We were able to find "Priceless" and "Start Something Priceless" campaigns, which last or may last for years. These campaigns seem universal to the company based on the description given in Effie.

We also tried to triangulate the data by using different campaigns by Mastercard hoping to get the average duration of these campaigns. We searched the press release of Mastercard since the company usually publish a press release whenever they have a new campaign. At first, we tried to limit our search to U.S. campaigns, but due to limited press releases available, we decided to expand our scope to nearby regions such as Latin America and then global in scope. We also tried searching for campaigns beyond the two years acceptable to see the duration of campaigns beyond those years. From the four campaigns, we found out that their timelines are too far apart to apply triangulations and may just lead us to inaccurate assumption.


From Part 02
  • "These are the sorts of everyday extraordinary experiences Mastercard says it wants to promote with its “Start Something Priceless” campaign — a campaign which launched Jan. 18 and which last week extended its reach into Pebble Beach Resorts as Mastercard was announced as the resorts’ Official Payment Technology Provider."
  • "The campaign started in January at the Mastercard House, an experiential retail and concert environment in New York City. The venue hosted a “Start Something Priceless” GRAMMY Awards preview event for media and influencers before opening the space to the public through January 27."
  • "A campaign needs to sink into the hearts and minds of consumers to really endure. We used to have 168 marketing programs and spent money across all of them, but we recognized that our efforts would be more powerful by connecting them through a compelling set of pillars: Priceless Cities, Priceless Surprises, Priceless Causes, and Priceless Specials. Today “Priceless” has run in 54 languages in 113 countries. Honing our focus has helped ensure the platform’s longevity and success."
  • "When Mastercard put its account up for bid in 1997, they were committed to picking the agency whose creative idea would outperform all others. But while the “Priceless” campaign concept performed incredibly well qualitatively in focus groups around the globe, it continued to come up short against another campaign under consideration."
  • "The premise is simple: for 24 hours on October 10, “Make It a Date” with your family, your friends, and your colleagues by dining out for a meal and paying with your Mastercard. When you dine outon 10/10and spend $10 or more using your Mastercard, Mastercard will donate $1 to SU2C, up to $4 million*. Every meal counts— breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner."
  • "The campaign kicks-off on April 10th with the activation of the #TogetherWeAre10 social movement, encouraging consumers to join Mastercard in doing their part to make a difference in the world. The Mastercard brand ambassadors will invite their followers to join the movement by making a symbolic gesture, inspiring people to learn more about hunger and donate to the WFP. Followers will be encouraged to show their support by recording themselves replicating the gesture and sharing it on their social media channels using the hashtag #TogetherWeAre10."
  • "Along the 2-year campaign, Mastercard aspires to have made a positive impact in the lives of children in the region by providing more than 10 million meals and supporting the fight against malnutrition across LAC."
  • "Mastercard is helping its cardholders’ actions go further by making a donation on their behalf when they dine out. From now through August 18, 2017, spend $10 or more on your Mastercard when paying for a meal at a qualifying U.S. restaurant, and Mastercard will make a one cent donation up to $4 Million to Stand Up To Cancer."
  • "MasterCard today joined with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) to introduce ‘Click and Be Generous’, a campaign designed to involve consumers in the fight against cancer as they begin their holiday shopping. From November 12 through December 31, 2012, when cardholders spend $10 or more online on their MasterCard cards, MasterCard will donate up to $2 million to Stand Up To Cancer – one precious cent at a time. Certain terms and conditions apply."