What can be classified as priceless? Anything you want it to be. Whether it’s an experience, the joy you get from a product, a moment or an investment that paid off greatly.
While you are figuring out in your mind what is priceless to you a certain brand is mastering it since the late 1990s, Mastercard. Through its Priceless campaign (which evolved to Start Something Priceless) the brand interacts with people on many levels including sports marketing and sponsorship. In May 2019, Mastercard announced a landmark partnership with Arsenal Women FC
Slowly yet surely this partnership is coming to life during the pandemic. By using Instagram Live, online roundtables, storytelling and match related content the partnership is making sure women’s football remains in the conversation.
How it All Started
The first notable sign of the partnership’s existence was a few perimeter signs carrying the Mastercard logo at Meadow Park. Any ideas for more physical activations and presence are likely on hold due to the pandemic.
It was in July that together with club legend and brand ambassador, Alex Scott, the partnership raised its head again. Mastercard benefited from a series of Instagram Live videos named Scottie Talks that Alex set up early in the pandemic. With Mastercard’s support, Alex hosted athletes Bryan Habana and Pernille Harder for a conversation about life, sport, and mental health.
It is important to bear in mind that since February up until the start of the 2020/2021 Barclays FA WSL season in September 2020 Arsenal Women had only played one competitive match. A UWCL quarter-final match vs PSG in August 2020.
Due to the way commercial and broadcast rights are sold for the UWCL with each club responsible for itself other than the Final, the Mastercard brand was visible in the match mentioned above too.
Priceless Moments & Exclusive Experiences
With a full match calendar ahead the marketing teams on both sides had the opportunity to plan content for the upcoming campaign and continue to activate the partnership.
After the first league match, a specific moment was shared on social with the banner of Priceless Moments presented by Mastercard. It was the moment Vivianne Miedema struck the ball to hit home Arsenal’s fifth goal in a 6-1 win over Reading.
Such moments and others continued to be celebrated throughout the season, mainly goals and career milestones, and since we are only halfway through it there are more to come.
The effect a partnership between a brand and a rights holder on the latter’s consumer/fan base continues to occupy marketing professionals. Mixed results show different reactions and impact on brand loyalty among those groups. For example, according to the marketing agency Wasserman, 83 % of consumers want brands to help them connect during times of social distancing.
One way to demonstrate the brand’s value in the partnership is via exclusive experiences for users of the brand’s products and services. In November 2020, Mastercard and Arsenal Women held an online Team Talk-A roundtable hosted by brand ambassador Alex Scott with three current players, Katie McCabe, Jordan Nobbs and Lisa Evans.
Fans needed to register in advance due to limited spaces and only Mastercard holders could do so. Participants could submit questions to the players and win merchandise.
Inspiration & Motivation
The main theme of the partnership’s most recent activation was inspiration and motivation and features four current players: Steph Catley, Lydia Williams, Leah Williamson and Jill Roord.
Each of them shares in an interview form what keeps them motivated, how they overcame difficult moments in their career, and what’s priceless to them. In addition, the following video plays on the same theme with a voice-over by Alex Scott about how she lacked female role models in football and how being one is priceless.
While we’ve focused here on the campaign’s activations so far which spanned from physical to content marketing and virtual experiences, we wonder, what’s next?
Usually, partnerships that involve financial services companies, and especially in the credit card realms, the brand becomes the sole payment operator in the venue of the rights holders. Given the realities of sports events, it seems unlikely for Mastercard to use this option if included and turn Meadow Park into a cashless stadium.
Once fans are regularly back in stadiums with new measures there are some opportunities to consider. If you’ve ever been to an Arsenal Women match you probably noticed the access fans have to the players post-match. A priceless interaction which can lead to creating the Mastercard Priceless Connection Zone.
Hospitality packages are rarely an option due to the venues most women’s football matches take place in. The main stand at Meadow Park has an invite-only seating area with access to the modest club lounge. This can be used to offer a Mastercard hospitality package where fans who are Mastercard holders join a raffle each home game for the chance to have a Priceless Matchday Experience with surprises in the lounge. Together with these ideas, we expect that digital will still play a strong part.
Arsenal Women and Mastercard have started something priceless. May they continue something unforgettable.