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The Priceless Lessons MasterCard Teaches Marketers

Posted on the 06 March 2014 by Marketingtango @marketingtango

MasterCard aired its first “Priceless” television commercial in 1997. Seventeen years later, the technology company and payments industry leader continues to broadcast its heartwarming campaign, today in 50 languages, 102 countries and across multiple integrated marketing channels.

Long before social media, that first commercial — capturing tender moments between a baseball game-going father and his son — and its “priceless” catchphrase could be considered one of the first viral campaigns.

“It was a big idea that resonated and socialized the old-fashioned way, without the crutch of now-universal viral tactics to give it wings,” wrote Kevin Lindsay, director of Conversion Product Marketing for Adobe Marketing Cloud, in a post for Business 2 Community.

Given its longevity and transition from a single TV spot to an integrated campaign, Giselle Abramovich, the senior and strategic editor at, believes that marketers can learn some priceless lessons that apply to small-to-midsize businesses.

Evolve Messaging to Fit the Medium

The Priceless campaign started out as a TV and print initiative capturing relatable moments of emotional bliss. But as social media heated up, MasterCard marketers realized the opportunity to evolve the campaign in 2011 to enable once-in-a-lifetime experiences through “Priceless Cities.” For example, for the show “Rock of Ages,” MasterCard offered its cardholders more than discounted tickets. People also were invited to rehearse with the cast on Broadway and have a walk-on role.

“Today the campaign helps MasterCard curate these experiences,” Abramovich explained.

The take-away here is to realize that even a beloved campaign can become stale. If you haven’t revived your marketing in a while, don’t be afraid to shake things up and tailor messages to fit digital audiences. Perhaps it’s time to introduce visual storytelling into the mix with an Instagram campaign. You can pick up pointers here: “Lessons from Top Marketers Using Instagram.”

The Priceless campaign also offers two other lessons for SMB integrated marketers:

Stay on brand — Although MasterCard evolved its campaign from capturing singular moments with emotional punch to sharing exclusive experiences, the brand never veered off message while scaling up. And that, too, is something that money can’t buy.

Good ideas are priceless — “You have to have a solid premise, which, for MasterCard, are these experiences,” Abramovich pointed out. “It’s something that resonates with people. The idea didn’t change with the digital component. Only the platforms changed.”

To help you make this transition as smoothly, learn about “The Seven Stages of Effective Social Business Marketing.”

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