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Brands Should Be Bold and Stand For Something They Believe In

“People expect and want more from brands; they expect actions and not just ads. They want brands to help them achieve their goals and aspirations.

In an exclusive interview with Vibe Projects, we spoke to Beatrice Cornacchia (Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Middle East and Africa at Mastercard) about the nature of new age marketing, the opportunities technologies bring and the advice she has for marketing enthusiast.


You have been associated with a brand like Mastercard for over 20 years now. What is it about a brand (any brand) that excites you personally? Why would you choose a particular brand over another?

I have been a marketer for nearly three decades now and throughout all these years, I have witnessed the lifecycle of many brands – many of which have stood the test of time while others have disappeared.

Today, global brands have the power to drive positive change and make the world a better place. More than 80% of consumers believe that brands should be bold, and stand for something they believe in. What this means is that brands now have a bigger role to play in people’s lives and I am fascinated by this evolution of the brand-customer relationship.

This has also been one of the most interesting aspects of my journey with Mastercard. For more than 50 years, Mastercard has been committed to being a force for good and continues to measure its success first by its ability to create meaningful impact. Whether we do this by making everyday payments safer, smarter and faster for our consumers or by empowering underserved communities around the world through our cutting-edge technologies, we are committed to making an impact in people’s lives by connecting them to priceless possibilities.


What is the biggest challenge for marketers today?

We live in a time and age where people are exposed to more information than ever before due to the number of communication channels that exist today and this is creating “product fatigue” (sick of being “advertised” too). The result is that 74% of brands could disappear and consumers wouldn’t care. However, rather than viewing this saturation as a challenge, as marketers we should see it as an exciting opportunity to develop creative ways to engage with audiences on a deeper level and build meaningful connections.

People expect and want more from brands; they expect actions and not just ads. They want brands to help them achieve their goals and aspirations. What is interesting is that these aspirations have also changed from what they used to be before. At Mastercard, we see them fall under three overarching categories: Me (my identity and lifestyle); My World (my relationships with others); and The World (my impact on the world).

We believe the key to solving this puzzle and winning the hearts and minds of our consumers is relevance, which leads to personalization at scale. Studies show that calls-to-action (CTA) that are personalized to individual visitors have a significantly higher view-to-submission rate than generic CTAs that appear the same for every visitor.


Mastercard’s business offerings are targeted to both the consumer and other business. What is your marketing approach towards these two diverse sets of clients? 

Indeed, as a business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) company, Mastercard’s business and marketing strategies are built with this in mind. Our overarching approach is the same, whether we are reaching out to consumers, merchants, financial institutions or governments. However, the narrative is tailored according to the needs of each target audience or stakeholder group.


The Priceless campaign has been one of the longest and most successful campaigns in history. How has the tool set changed back from when it was launched to the current times when it comes to marketing your services?  

Our Priceless campaign has endured for two decades by staying rooted to the universal truth that experiences matter more than things. When Mastercard launched the platform in 1997, the goal was to put our consumers at the center of our communications strategy by leveraging their various passions such as sports, music, entertainment, arts and culture, etc. Fast forward 20 years and consumers now want to ‘place themselves’ at the center of these experiences because they expect actions and not just stories and ads from brands.

In line with this shift, our marketing strategy has evolved from ‘story-telling’, which is observing and celebrating priceless moments, to ‘story-making’ and even ‘story-inspiring’, which are about enabling experiences for our consumers and empowering them to find the path that is right for them, so they can ‘Start Something Priceless’ in their lives. In this way, Start Something Priceless has become our call to action; it is a movement that inspires and reminds people to pursue their passion or purpose, no matter how big or small. On a personal level too, this has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my career – being part of this priceless journey all these years and closely witnessing the evolution of this incredible campaign.


As a leading technology company and a brand that has yielded many an experiential marketing campaign, what’s the secret of marrying technology and customer experience?

 Mastercard is a ‘human-centered’ technology company, which means that a beating heart powers our existence in the world of technology. For us, people are people – not just cardholders, banks, and merchants. We are also a company that believes in ‘doing well by doing good’. This is why we see our role as a connector brand; we are passionate about connecting people to priceless possibilities, and it is through the power of these connections that we engage them, empower them and enable them to become ambassadors of our brand.


What are the trending martech solutions that are you working with and /or are looking forward to? How is it changing the current marketing landscape?

We are clearly in the midst of a major digital transformation. We have seen more changes in the last five years alone than we did over the preceding 20 years. For example, digital marketing, which was born as a new discipline, has now become the norm – the foundational piece of any good strategy. In addition, we are using data-driven insights to ensure the effectiveness of our campaigns and perfect campaign executions. We also know that emerging technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and chatbots are here to stay and it is only a matter of time until they completely redefine the marketing function and its role in revenue generation. The key is to stay on top of these developments and continuously learn, test and leverage these technologies to stay ahead of the game.


What would be your ‘priceless’ advice to new age marketing and communications enthusiasts?

I have two pieces of advice for them. First, remember that the secret sauce for marketing success contains four main ingredients: great content, data analytics, precision targeting and an innate understanding of human emotions. Make sure to use them in the right proportions! Second, and most importantly, you need to pursue your passion in life. As Steve Jobs once famously said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” At Mastercard, I found my passion for creating, enabling, and now inspiring ‘priceless’ stories – this is why I’m still here after all these years. Each new day brings fresh opportunities to make a difference; it’s truly a pleasure to be a part of Mastercard’s journey.


You will be speaking at the Vibe Marketers’ Fest about how Mastercard’s priceless campaign has spanned over time and geography. What are you expecting at the fest?

I am looking forward to enjoying the ‘vibe,’ hearing everyone’s thoughts on what makes a marketing campaign priceless, learning about successful brand stories from fellow marketers and, most importantly, inspiring them to Start Something Priceless!

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