Story telling is dead

This title of a talk given this afternoon by Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar at New York’s Advertising Week was a contrarian statement aimed at raising awareness of the need for advertisers to find a different way to connect to their customers.

No, story telling is not dead. Instead Rajamannar made the point that given the ubiquity of ad blockers and short attention spans, advertisers need to change the focus of their stories. In fact, one slide in his presentation read, Story telling is dead. Long live story telling.

Rajamannar suggested that instead of brands telling their own story, brands should facilitate the means for their customers to tell their personal story–one facilitated by their use of the brand. Laying the groundwork for this perspective, Rajamannar claimed that we are in Marketing 4.0. Our progression of communication leading to 4.0 has been:

  • Marketing 1.0: Logic
  • Marketing 2.0: Emotions
  • Marketing 3.0: Data
  • Marketing 4.0: Connections

The strongest connections we can facilitate between our brands and consumers come from meeting our customers in their area of passion. Create a non-intrusive experience that moves them into an experiential relationship with our brand and we will see strong long-term connections, purchasing, and brand loyalty.

Mastercard’s Priceless campaign has evolved into the experiential and Rajamannar gave us examples including:

  1. Priceless Surprises. A drawing in which winners are surprised to find Justin Timberlake at their door ready to hang out and play some music.
  2. Priceless Emotions. Mastercard Black holders receive a 15% discount on luxury treatments at the Kennzur Spa in Sao Paulo Brazil.
  3. Priceless Cities. For the Broadway show “Rock of Ages,” MasterCard didn’t just offer card members cheaper tickets. People who bought tickets were also invited to rehearse with the “Rock of Ages” cast and have a walk-on role.
  4. Priceless Causes. Mastercard donates a small portion of certain purchases including dining and airline tickets to a cause called Stand up to Cancer. The promotion ended up raising more than $35MM for cancer research. The experience given to Mastercard customers was that of helping further this important medical research.

There have been other variations on this Priceless theme including Priceless Elevators in which lucky participants in the Northside festival in Brooklyn’s McCarren Park had an opportunity to take a 60-second elevator ride during which they pitched a business or business idea for a chance to win a $15,000 grand prize.

Mastercard is tying the use of its product to “priceless” experiences that money alone just can’t buy. The feeling of those customers experiencing the use of their Mastercard builds an unforgettable connection to the brand and allows a story to be told, not by Mastercard about the superiority of their brand, but by their customers about their love of the brand.

About Mike Lake

Mike is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Evergreen Trading. When not playing jazz trombone he is probably obsessing about writing content that will capture the attention and interest of business people and fellow learning junkies everywhere.

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