‘This is not a time when you want to sell’: Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar on retooling advertising during a crisis

Digiday 28 Apr 2020 04:00
April 28, 2020 by Kristina Monllos

Like most advertisers, Mastercard has reduced how much it is spending — it would not say by how much — but Mastercard chief marketing and communications officer Raja Rajamannar sees this as a temporary move that’s more attuned to the current sentiment than a way to cut costs.

“The first thing we did was we started looking at [our advertising] from a philosophical perspective,” he said. “There are times when you want to sell. This is not a time when you want to sell. This is the time to serve. Consumers don’t want you to keep sending ads to them in a tone deaf fashion. They’re going through a crisis with a lot of fears and apprehensions. You should not show up with your ads trying to sell your wares. If you’re trying to solve some problem or pain point for people, do it. If you’re not trying to solve some pain point, then do something for the community. “

Rajamannar spoke to Digiday about how Mastercard is putting actions over words, and when it will get back to spending more money on advertising. The answers have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

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