The Power of the Brand

A best case look at a brand transformation: MasterCard's 'Priceless' campaign

Debra M. Coughlin
MasterCard International, Inc


As MasterCard's awardwinning Priceless campaign celebrates its fiveyear anniversary this fall, its durability and enduring success continues to impress advertising industry watchers as it delights and compels consumers, encouraging them to reach for their MasterCard cards. The power of the MasterCard brand, with Priceless and its transforming effects on the MasterCard franchise, shape up to a best case study of emotionally salient, targeted advertising coordinated and integrated on a global scale.

When MasterCard surveyed the marketplace in 1997, we knew the brand was in need of a total repositioning. At that time, the brand was farther from 'top of wallet' with the consumer than we wanted it to be. While we had always been well respected and trusted, we lacked a distinct brand image that would capture the hearts and minds of consumers. Actual brand differences among cards in the payments industry are not dramatic. All competitors share a basic overall business strategy to grow consumer use of cards instead of cash and checks. While our member banks determine the fees, rates, rewards, and benefits for their own MasterCard portfolios to differentiate their product offering from one another, MasterCard defines and communicates the brand. How the brand performs is largely due to its positioning and marketing.