"We use Twitter for thought leadership, Facebook for engagement": Manasi Narasimhan, Mastercard

By Sunit Roy & Abid Hussain Barlaskar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising
Published : October 16, 2018 03:38 AM
The brand's recent six TVC-outing educates the senior lot. But the communication seems to echo tunes of other players in the segment. An analysis.

Mastercard's latest campaign - Cash-to-Digital - is designed to get older customers into the race for a digital economy, i.e. making them feel confident about using ATM/debit cards etc. The campaign, a set of six TVCs, shows the learning journey of a senior citizen (actor Pankaj Kapur) exposed to the perks of using plastic money under the able guidance of his on-screen nephew (cricketer MS Dhoni).

The ads showcase Mastercard's various avatars from the all-rounder payment option and alternative to loose change, to online payment magic. By the sixth ad in the series, the senior gentleman comes out more educated and quite adept at using debit cards.

Interestingly, all the ads end with a closing message - 'Mastercard - Bharat ka card. Safest way to pay' - ensuring the promise of safety and security for consumers.

The campaign will be promoted across traditional and social media platforms and the TVCs will be translated into eight languages reaching out to audiences across 120 Tier 2 and 3 cities.

However, the communication is not exactly unique for the market segment. Of late, with a host of digital payment platforms cropping up in the BFSI space, the overall tone of brand communications now seem similar, if not the same.

Post demonetisation, brands such as Paytm, PayPal, Freecharge, and MobiKwik released ads highlighting digital payment and e-wallet services. The latest Mastercard ads are also reminiscent of the PayPal ads that aimed at educating seniors while still carrying forth the safety and security narrative. Let's not forget the push for using digital in lieu of small cash by Paytm.

ALSO READ: "The safety aspect differentiates us from the 'best deal', cashback frenzy": PayPal India marketing head

Earlier this year, Mastercard launched a marketing campaign featuring Irrfan Khan. So, why rope in MS Dhoni for the new campaign so soon?

afaqs! Spoke to Manasi Narasimhan, VP, Marketing and Communications, South Asia, Mastercard, to get the inside story:-

"In MS Dhoni, Mastercard has found another partner, in addition to Irrfan Khan who reflects the drive for a less-cash India. People in India relate to cricket and Bollywood. This association brings the two together," says Narasimhan.

But with so many players jumping into the fray post demonetisation, is Mastercard's message still loud and clear?

"Demonetisation was a game-changer for the payment industry as it opened an array of opportunities for consumers and businesses alike. However, around 95 per cent retail payments in India are still in cash and this presents a scope for the growth of digital payments," she responds.

Why the changeover from 'There are some things money can't buy, for everything else, there's Mastercard,' to the new tagline 'Kyonki Kuch Khushiyan hai Priceless'?

Manasi Narasimhan Manasi Narasimhan

Narasimhan replies, "Mastercard's 'Cash-to-Digital' campaign was conceptualised keeping in mind the day-to-day shopping needs of Indian consumers, especially in tier 2 and 3 towns. The campaign reflects the small joys which are unique to India like street food, hospitality for guests etc. The TVCs highlight how these priceless joys are enabled by Mastercard, hence, the new tagline."

She maintains that Indian consumers are hesitant to opt for digital payments and are constantly worried about safety, adding, "In India, we will have invested INR 6,500 crore between 2014-2019 while globally, Mastercard has invested US 1 billion dollars in safety and security in the last year."

Speaking about the utility of the various ad mediums, Narasimhan says, "We use mass media options such as TV, radio and print for awareness and behavioural shift. We focus very heavily on TV as it is the most consumed media. Radio has also been a key form of communication to connect with the masses. We use Twitter to build thought-leadership and Facebook to engage consumers. We are constantly looking at other ways to reach out."

The ad campaign has been conceptualised by McCann World group India and executed by Rising Sun Films led by Shoojit Sircar.

Prasoon Joshi Prasoon Joshi

With regard to the challenges of creating the campaign, Prasoon Joshi, chairman Asia Pacific, CEO and chief creative officer, McCann World group India, says, "In a society which is predominantly predisposed to cash, driving a habit-change campaign came with its own challenges. The core campaign thought or idea is set from within the Indian context and the aspect of - could digital money be my reality? We have attempted to address some of those myths shrouding the use of debit cards and the focus was on giving people a peek into the possibilities that open up with Mastercard."

"The legacy of 'priceless' is something we were keen to refocus on and it being a part of the brand DNA, we worked the campaign to align to the same thought - with an Indian touch. The discussion across boardrooms was about a single-minded communication - to educate and empower Indians to adapt to a cashless economy with ease," Joshi adds regarding the shift in Mastercard's tagline.

"We developed a campaign with Irrfan last year to introduce people to the possibilities that open up with Mastercard. This year we are taking it forward with the Mahi (MS Dhoni) and Mama Chronicles aimed at driving education around the usage of debit cards," Joshi says about the TG of the campaign.

Here's what the experts think:-

Saurabh Uboweja Saurabh Uboweja

Saurabh Uboweja, international brand expert and CEO - Brands of Desire, says, "MasterCard, along with Visa, have been the original global pioneers of cashless transactions and have massive inherent brand equity built over the years. Even though today they compete with fast-growing digital-only and digital-first payment brands such as Paytm, they are still in a reasonably good position to leverage their existing equity to add new customers."

About the clutter of messages in the area and Mastercard's own stand, Uboweja states, "Communication in this category is bound to be redundant. It is not possible to build distinctive value propositions for any of the brands. It is pretty much headed the same way telecom brands promote themselves - no clear position, very difficult to differentiate, me too messaging. The huge edge Mastercard has over PayPal is the first-move advantage in India, a famous brand identity which people still remember and relate to. This campaign builds upon that pretty well.

"It's an intelligent placement and one that viewers will instantly recognise. It serves as a memory device for Mastercard and helps them leverage the existing equity efficiently," says Uboweja with regard to the product integration in the film.

"The campaign is executed well, especially if one watches the full series of ads. They have successfully demonstrated multiple use-cases across different mediums, highlighting the versatility of the payment solution. If they can promote the campaign in a sustained manner, they should have success. The content is simple and smart, makes use of the seasoned and charming Pankaj Kapur while leveraging the mass appeal of Dhoni. The Mama-Bhanja relationship works convincingly in the story narrative," Uboweja adds.

Santosh Padhi Santosh Padhi

Santosh Padhi, chief creative officer and co-founder at Taproot Dentsu, says, "One cannot help that being in the category one has to keep reminding consumers what they have on board; but how you say it makes the cut above the rest. In this case, Pankaj Kapur and Dhoni add weight to the campaign. As always, Pankaj has done a good job here and will get some attraction; that's what I feel, but I'm a big fan of big insightful ideas as opposed to big celebrities in a campaign. The story around the same family in different set-ups always works, but in this case, because PayPal has done it before, I would have certainly avoided being in the same category and similar offering. Their emotional baseline is one of the best examples. I liked the way they localised the line, it's short and sweet, they just need a bit of exposure to establish and own it."

For feedback/comments, please write to newsteam@afaqs.com

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