Advertising is Dead?


Guess who says that “advertising is dead.”

Here’s a hint: He oversees the purchase of $350-million worth of advertising every year for one of the world’s largest financial services companies.

Chief Communications and Marketing Manager for MasterCard Raja Rajamannar says that traditional advertising is dead, and it’s now the era of experiential marketing.

Brand Shift, Time Shift

Consumers expect more from their brands and products than messages, he said in a recent presentation at Northwestern University. They want to be delighted and enchanted. They’re more fickle than ever.

Consumers also want rewards for interacting with or acknowledging a brand, Rajamannar said. When 74 percent of brands disappear next year, people won’t “bat an eye” because the now-gone brands hadn’t engaged with them.

Rajamannar says the internet has democratized information, letting people get their advertising when they want it. Prime time, he said, is now all the time.

More Devices = More Opportunity. But …

The explosion in the number of devices per household — 7.84 of them for 2.54 people on average — means more opportunities to capture consumers’ attention, but also a war for attention, he said.

Marketers also have to get around ad blockers and ad-free content delivery systems such as Netflix. Marketers need to focus beyond logic, emotions and data, to building connections between people, focussing on the things that matter most to them, Rajamannar said.

“Things” used to be status symbols, he said, but now stories and experiences are more fulfilling. Consumers want to be part of the brand story, to participate in a “story-in-making.”

He wasn’t just talking. Rajamannar and his team identified nine passion categories for consumers — film, music, art, travel, environment, philanthropy, cuisine, shopping, and sports– and then transformed their 19-year-old “Priceless” campaign into a “comprehensive marketing platform, focusing on experiences.”

They created four sets of customer opportunities:  Priceless Cities, Priceless Surprises, Priceless Causes, and Priceless Specials, each offering MasterCard users exclusive experiences they and others can share in person and via social media.

Rajamannar showed one Surprise that featured two Ellie Goulding fans ostensibly brought to a studio to cover her song “Army” for a documentary. Instead, they were stunned to find themselves on stage, singing the song with the pop icon in front of a live audience as part of the U.K.’s #BRITs Awards.

The video was one of many. Mark Ronson produced a cover with fans of the hit “Uptown Funk”. Mary J. Blige and other stars also surprised fans. Videos and photos of the efforts have been seen and shared millions of times on YouTube and Instagram, spreading MasterCard’s brand,  resonating with MasterCard’s digital-savvy audience, Rajamannar said.

The effort opened doors to more opportunities for consumer engagement by putting them at the center of story creation, he said.

Author: Jo Ladzinski

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