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Mastercard: From Impressions To Impact

Connecting with women on an aspirational level can vary greatly between communities.

Author, Raja Rajamannar

Like many other CMOs, I am acutely aware of the responsibility our brand has in shaping cultural perceptions. For me, gender equality in advertising is not about checking a diversity box. Ensuring accurate visual representation is critical for debunking stereotypes and connecting with women, but how we measure impact has many more dimensions. Never has our job as marketers been more important. I am challenging my team to look at how we are empowering women to have equal opportunity – within the company, within the community, and within the world.

I’m proud to have a global marketing and communications team comprising of 75 per-cent women. When women have around 75 per-cent of the purchasing power, it simply makes good business sense to surround yourself with a team that can garner the best insights, for better decisions, to deliver the most powerful work. 

Connecting with women on an aspirational level can vary greatly between communities. When looking at how to forge valuable relationships, I like to ask three questions: Are we showing up in the right places? Are we aligning with the right voices? Are we saying and doing something meaningful? 

Showing up in the right place means that media placements are balanced, in terms of the relevance of outlet and reach. Partnering with the ANA’s #SeeHer team and our agency, we’ve made great strides in ensuring that the environments in which we run our ads are in tune with feedback from women. In 2018 alone, we nearly doubled the per cent of our placements in the US that runs in GEM approved programs.  

One of the most important measures for me is how we inspire people through meaningful experiences. People invest in their passions, and we make it a point to be there with them. Mastercard has a strong heritage in sports sponsorship, however, over the last five years we have broadened to embrace music, fashion, film and food, to give more depth to the way in which we engage with more people across the world. 

For me, the right voice means that we are aligning with ambassadors that young people emulate. Female athletes empower young women through their drive, ambition and discipline. That’s why we are proud to support stars like Annika Sorenstam and Li Na. Just recently, we brought Camila Cabello onboard as another strong inspirational figure who transcends cultures and age groups. Timed with the GRAMMY Awards, our first commercial featuring Camila was spotlighted by the ANA as having a high GEM score. This measure is taken directly from consumer reactions to our portrayal of women, so we always take the time to understand how the stories performed and where we can continue to grow. 

Saying something meaningful requires not only diversity in the presentation of women, but also a diversity of thought. It’s important to ask if through our work we are provoking cultural conversations that really matter? One significant component of our brand platform, Start Something Priceless, is understanding the powerful role women are taking on within their communities to break down barriers, start meaningful moments and even movements. 

In May, Mastercard launched a new campaign in the U.S. to help share the stories of women who are contributing over $3 trillion to today’s economy and opening over eighteen hundred businesses every single day. From a feature in The New York Times to billboards in Times Square and beyond, we are shining a light on just a few of the incredible women such as Deepica Mutyala founder and CEO of Live Tinted and Catherine Berman co-founder and CEO of CNote, who took an idea and turned it into impact. By putting a spotlight on them we hope that other women are inspired to pursue their passion.

When I think about community, it occurs to me that marketers should equally be measuring the impact the brand can have on the markets and industries in which the company operates. As a technology company, we place great importance on inspiring young women to pursue a career in STEM. Right now only one in 20 girls are considering a STEM job (compared with one in five boys)

Girls4Tech, our signature education program is focused on teaching the foundation of STEM principles to girls aged 10-13 years. We are committed to reaching 1 million girls by 2025. Today, we have 25 countries participating in the program, more than 3,000 employees are committed to contribute their knowledge. We’ve found this program to be a powerful way to connect with young people through our world-class sponsorships – for example, you’ll see Girls4Tech popping up at golf events (The Open) as well as baseball events (All-Stars).  

We can measure the share of wallet, brand health, engagement metrics, in all the traditional ways but it is easy to ignore the measure of impact on society at large. There are many marginalized families across the globe where women are striving to provide opportunities for their children, but the barriers are enormous. We are infusing the company spirit of doing well by doing good into the way our customers can experience our brand and products. 

A few years ago, we made a joint commitment with the World Food Programme to deliver 100 million school meals, to help in the fight against global hunger. Whether it’s through sponsorships, brand ambassadors, creative media executions, or partner integrations, we are integrating simple mechanisms for making and matching donations into our assets to meet that goal. I’m delighted to share that we have surpassed our goal and are thrilled to see an increase in the number of girls regularly attending school, in the regions where meals are being delivered. Keeping girls in school is an incredibly important step on the road to gender equality. 

I urge the marketing industry to look beyond the creative and have an honest dialogue about what it means to truly empower women and measure impact. That is the path towards forging authentic and lasting brand relationships.

Raja Rajamannar is the Chief Marketing & Communications Officer and President, Healthcare at Mastercard. With more than 30 years of experience as a global executive, Raja has been recognised for driving business transformation across a variety of geographies and multiple industries, including consumer products, financial services and healthcare. Most recently, Raja was named the 2018 WFA Global Marketer of the Year and assumed the honorary role as President of the World Federation of Advertisers in May 2019. He has been pivotal in driving Mastercard’s iconic marketing and branding changes such as the company’s transition to a symbol and sonic brand.

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