While gaming is not a new marketing tool for brands, what’s different about how Mastercard used it during the pandemic and into the current time is that they’ve twisted the role of marketing into looking at business development. Rather than being content with creating ad campaigns for products that a different part of the company is designing, Kauveri told us how marketing drove the design and development of one of the brand’s results-orientated initiatives.

During the pandemic, Mastercard loyalty points became almost unusable, since people couldn’t take advantage of them to attend real-life events in sports and entertainment, among others. This led to the Mastercard loyalty programmes becoming a liability and motivated Kauveri to look into how to find a new source of income for the brand.

By brainstorming opportunities, her team discovered that they could use Mastercard’s sponsorship of eSports, particularly League of Legends, to capitalise on a huge opportunity - the $200 billion industry of gaming. Hence, gaming became her Shiny New Object as they created a conversion engine to turn consumers’ loyalty points into gaming currency.

This project highlights the opportunity for marketing departments to prove that they can do more than “simple” advertising. By driving a growth initiative, they created more income opportunities and enabled the loyalty scheme to continue to thrive in an environment where it had lost its appeal to consumers. They also helped increase the scope of partnerships for Mastercard by linking up with eSports players beyond just financial institutions. 

As an example of marketing driving growth, the Mastercard gamer exchange shines a light on a new range of opportunities with gaming, the metaverse, and beyond.

Listen to the chat here

The host of the Shiny New Object podcast is Tom Ollerton, founder of Automated Creative.