We are sponsoring the Cannes Film Festival and have found certain things that are extremely applicable to cricket – Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Mastercard

In a roundtable session, SportsMint Media got the opportunity to ask Mr Raja about Mastercard's partnership with the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023.

One of the most prolific developments in the cricket fraternity took place when Mastercard announced its association with the International Cricket Council (ICC) for the highly anticipated ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.

As the official global partner for the ultimate limited-overs cricket competition, leading up to the tournament, Mastercard aims to keep the spectators in India in the middle of the proceedings to help them enjoy the game like never before.

The recently unveiled arrangement is followed by Mastercard’s fruitful association with the host of the upcoming World Cup, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

In a roundtable session, SportsMint Media got the opportunity to ask Mr Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Mastercard, about the company’s partnership with the World Cup. Below are the inputs given by Mr Raja in the roundtable questionnaire session.

1. How will Mastercard use its expertise for doing local activations in India during the World Cup?

We’re in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the US and the associations in those regions turned out well.

It doesn’t have to be solely from sports sponsorships, we could use experiences from different sponsorships, as well. We are sponsoring the Cannes Film Festival and have found certain things, which are extremely applicable in a sporting area like cricket for example.

What kind of ads will work? There are certain global templates, you have to adapt them through local context. So we try to get those kind of things. And now whatever we learn here, we can take it to the other parts of the world, that’s the advantage of being a global company. As well as, it’s an opportunity for us to be smarter, make lesser mistakes and be more innovative, creative and also not reinvent the same wheel.

2. How will the upcoming new campaigns help Mastercard reach Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India?

For starters, the campaign will not be something, that only the affluent people in the upscale audience will connect to. It’s highly intrusive and the integral aspect here is that we want to have as much reach as possible.

So tier 1 and tier 2 will definitely be there. The ad is created such that there is a significant universal appeal amongst the Indian audiences to the content of that ad. I don’t know when exactly the ad is going to air, but the content of the ad will be very relatable, and very emotional. Number two is the media planning. So, when you’re looking at the media plan, you say, where do you want to reach and that’s a very fundamental aspect of what we do for media planning as if we want to reach audiences in Vijayawada, Nagpur, and in Gorakhpur, and not just the five-six metro cities.

There is a proper science behind how we work with the media agencies and how they form the media planning for us. Then we have postfactor evaluation where we talk about the reach, and frequency of the reach. That way we get our own metrics of the percentage of people. If they have shown this ad three times, how many of them will remember the ad, how many of them will maybe remember the content of the ad and how many will also associate with Mastercard? So what is the brand recall and brand association? So we look at each one of these things with that kind of fashion.

3. How will Mastercard compete with other ICC partners who are also from the finance industry?

It is a pretty common thing in multiple sponsorship events where brands are from the same industry. It’s not very common for the very large ones all the time, but there are a number of occasions where we have that kind of situation. During such circumstances, we try to put all our intellectual and creative horsepower together. To say that assuming that they are going to do a fantastic job, how will we stand up? We don’t know what they will do, whatever they might do, they might, but we will actually be ahead of everyone else and show how aspirational we are.

The good thing is this experiential platform is not just getting creative and doing something on the spot like that. We actually bought a full company almost seven or eight years back whose only focus is experiential monitoring management. They only manage experiences all the way from ticketing to fulfilment, end to end. And it’s not easy to get that thing done, to be perfecting it again and again, which hopefully will help us because nobody else has got that kind of thing. We have had incredible AI deployment for the last several years which will give us more insights more real-time analysis, and more real-time action than we can take out of that.

And the last one, I would say, that every brand can create an ad they all have an agency, and some brands use the same agency, but why is it that some brand advertisements are consistently better than others? It is the people behind the brand on the company side and the people on the creative who are working with the company. We are blessed with an incredible team. So for example, here in India, the team is not just left alone by themselves. You’re going to hold infrastructure behind them, that will be working out of different regions and global and type based on McCann style. McCann is not just working a standoff on their own. There is tremendous firepower, that’s coming from the global headquarters of McCann to support the local mechanical and make sure that we bring the best of the world.

4. Are India hosting the World Cup and the fruitful BCCI partnership major reasons for this association with the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023?

First and foremost, it is our hypothesis and projection. When matches happen in India, all the games probably will get a much higher audience level than any other country. That’s our hypothesis, we could be right or we could be wrong but I think we’ll probably be right. So, the scale will be much higher for all the matches.

Now if there’s an India game, it will be huge and we feel here, it’s going to be crazy. I saw some articles about how the prices for hotels and everything were going up just around the time of the games and it gives you an education of demands.

So what happens is when I do the ROI for the matches and overall sponsorship, we look at how many audiences we are reaching, and what percentage of them are connecting. What percentage of them will retain the message or the band association? So, now we have got a proper model around that and because it is happening in India, the scale jumps up. Therefore what will happen is that the ROI will be quite good, so having it in India is definitely a big advantage and there’s no question about it.

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