Antara Ghosal

MasterCard: All set for a masterstroke

MasterCard's new campaign showcases the benefits of the product during travel

The latest campaign by MasterCard, a global payments company, brings to life the concept of 'escape' -- something that everybody desires when travelling. It also reinstates the benefits of MasterCard -- convenience, ease and security -- anytime, anywhere.

The ad features cricketers from the Mumbai Indians team -- Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan -- who are looking for an escape in Kenya. The escape is much required, because the cricketers are overwhelmed by their fans, who are everywhere, from the airport to their journey through Kenya.

Finally, they escape into a beautiful Masai Mara jungle, savouring their freedom and having fun, when they come across a Masai Mara tribal, complete with spear. As they get closer to him to quietly take pictures, the man's child recognises them. This brings a big smile to the cricketers' faces, as they feel great joy in connecting with people from a different world.

The insight used in the campaign is that affluent Indians are travelling more than ever before, ostensibly to break free from the drudgery of life. Cross-border travel becomes an escape in the true sense; as people visit unfamiliar places and cultures, where they are treated as individuals, and not as members of a particular social class.

Speaking about the campaign, Raja Balasubramanian, vice-president, marketing, India MasterCard Worldwide says, "As a brand, MasterCard has always tried to reflect the needs and aspirations of the Indian consumer. With growing affluence and awareness, increasing numbers of Indians are travelling abroad each year. The campaign reinforces the benefits that MasterCard provides to all its cardholders while travelling."

As the founding sponsor of Mumbai Indians, MasterCard has been able to leverage celebrity players in the current advertisement. "We have used the star power of cricketers from the Mumbai Indians to bring to life the concept of 'escape'. This is a campaign that will definitely resonate with all travellers and affluent cardholders," adds Balasubramanian.

The campaign has been developed by McCann Erickson. The team at McCann who worked on the campaign includes Prasoon Joshi, chief creative officer; Ashish Chakravarty, executive creative director; Rajesh Bhardwaj, creative director; and Rohit Devgun, art director. The production company is Ravi Udyawar Films. The media agency for MasterCard is Lodestar Universal.

Explaining the insight behind the campaign, Prasoon Joshi, executive chairman and regional creative director, Asia Pacific, McCann Erickson says, "The idea is to promote cross-border travel and to tell people how MasterCard can be a very useful brand when you travel abroad. Not only celebrities, but everybody feels that they should go to a place where nobody knows them; they don't want to interact with any of those everyday survival things. They want to get away from that."

"Personally, when I'm travelling, and even a few of my friends say that when they go for a holiday, they don't want to meet the same set of people again. You don't want to talk about those things that you talk about everyday. This idea is at the core of the campaign," he adds.

In addition to leveraging mass media, the communication effort will be complemented by a range of initiatives -- print, OOH, cinema, digital and in-flight activation -- across all key markets.

Master of all?

The ad has been well-liked by the fraternity. Some find the concept refreshing; while others feel that the cricketers have been used appropriately in the communication.

"I think it must have been a difficult brief. Take one of the longest running campaigns. Marry some celebs with it. Retain real space of celebs. Build escape as an idea. I think, considering the variables, it isn't a bad job," says Titus Upputuru, executive creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi.

On the other hand, Adrian Mendonza, national creative director, Dentsu Marcom is all praise for the communication. "The overall insight is very appealing, and this is also a great use of the cricketers. It's a genuine insight that at times, people like Sachin Tendulkar would like to run away from it all, and go to some place where he cannot be recognized. The usage of MasterCard woven beautifully with the situations makes the storyline all the more interesting," he adds.

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