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BRONZE WINNER: Breakthrough MasterCard Mobile Program Engages Youth Audience


Client: MasterCard Worldwide

Entrant Company: UniversalMcCann Japan

Entry Category: A Local Brand or Service in a Local Market with innovative media solutions worthy of international adaptation or of world class standards

Names to be credited with submission:
• Takayuki Hara, MasterCard Worldwide
• Hirotsugu Morimoto, Universal McCann
• Hideyuki Miura, Universal McCann
• Hirotaka Kawabata, Universal McCann
• Kyoko Yoshida, McCann Erickson
• Kieko Mori, McCann Erickson
• Masashi Nakai, McCann Erickson

Time Period of Campaign: 2008

Case Study Summary:

Marketing Situation: In a VISA-dominated market, young people in Japan (age 18 – 24) are aware of MasterCard, but the opportunity existed to further boost usage within the youth audience. To promote increased brand preference and interaction, MasterCard leveraged Japan’s propensity for mobile communications as the cornerstone for a unique youth campaign.

Key Insights: Japanese adolescents are very technologically savvy and rely on mobile phones to connect with friends 24/7. In fact, the average Japanese person prefers to maintain personal connections via mobile-based emails, texts and calls, as opposed to the average global inclination for face-to-face communication, email and social networking. Furthermore, mobile (“keitai”) phones are a primary source of service and function in Japan, even more so than computers or PDAs, providing access to real-time video calls, gaming, quick response (QR) codes, GPS, e-books and translation applications, monetary payment services, mass transit ticketing and more.

In this prominent “keitai culture,” youth meticulously decorate their handsets both inside and out and are constantly searching for fun, new functions to aid their interaction with friends. Not surprisingly, mobile content is extremely popular among the youth set and typically sold in Japan for 300 yen (USD $3).

Media Strategy: To engage the youth “life-starters” target, MasterCard developed a mobile campaign site full of free tools and content. Online banner ads were used to promote the campaign, and print ads featuring quick response (QR) codes provided easy access to the mobile site. Seasonality was also a key element to the campaign, with an April launch date chosen for its association with new beginnings—students head back to school and recent graduates enter the work force, all eager to communicate with friends.

Geared towards building and enriching friendships, the MasterCard-branded mobile contents included photo frames, decomail (decorative mobile email templates), a flash game and a message board where users could recount “Priceless” experiences to receive limited-edition downloads. MasterCard also became one of the first brands to utilize custom mobile “arrange tools” (ringtones, wallpapers, icons and screen designs) as a form of brand communication and engagement. Once installed, arrange tools connected MasterCard with users anytime, anywhere and were easily shared phone-to-phone, accelerating brand recognition among the target audience.

How Could this be a Template for Other Campaigns or for World Class Standards? In the future, mobile phones will not merely be phones, but the communication tool, serving as the foundation for all person-to-person contact worldwide (mail, music, video, etc.). Mobile applications will become richer, increasingly innovative and allow for deeper user interaction.

A brand can succeed more than ever in building affinity and awareness by providing attractive mobile contents to its target audience. Additionally, mobile contents amplify brand interaction by being easily spread and shared among users.

Results: The MasterCard mobile site received over 1 million page views and over 300,000 branded contents were downloaded. By understanding key cultural insights and trends, MasterCard engaged an otherwise distant youth audience and created an interactive relationship for further “Priceless” campaigns to cultivate.