MasterCard Rolling Out Branding Campaign to Employees, Then Candidates

A variation of the very-well-known “Priceless” theme permeating MasterCard’s consumer commercials will be finding its way into the company’s employment and recruitment branding.

It’s been ages since you first started seeing those commercials (like this near tear-jerker). But that some things money can’t buy … For everything else there’s MasterCard theme never fully made its way into the company’s human resources advertising.

In a sense, Chief Human Resources Officer Ron Garrow tells me, the company wasn’t really ready. When he and CEO Ajay Banga started about five years ago, MasterCard was seen as a credit card company (though technically it was the banks issuing the cards). Anyhow: it wasn’t seen as the proverbial cool, hip, foosball-playing, great workplace kind of tech company.

If this is all sounding a little familiar, maybe you’ve read about ADP. Or maybe you’ve read about GE.

MasterCard set out to change itself from a credit card company to a technology company that’s in the payments field. It was not just a business transformation, but really a cultural transformation.

The company had been hiring for experience, filling job ads with the “10-15 years experience” sort of thing, language which has since been curtailed. A typical potential employee was a banker, a consultant.

Now, you can be a telecommunications employee, a transportation employee, a tech employee. Dress codes have given way to casual wear. Yes, a MasterCard employee can now find themselves good competition in a ping-pong game.

About 10 percent of the company five years ago was made up of millennials. Now, about 38 percent is.

Liz Birenbaum, who worked in the company’s digital marketing — not human resources — department, was moved over to work in employer brand marketing.

Garrow and now Birenbaum are bringing Priceless inside the walls of MasterCard. Also involved: McCann, the agency critical to the consumer campaign.

Garrow had originally considered a simple “Priceless Employee Experiences” version of the Priceless theme. But ultimately, he realized that transition from priceless consumer experiences to priceless employee experiences wasn’t so simple. Is a coaching conversation really priceless?

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Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 12.53.03 PMWhat Garrow, Birenbaum, Banga, and others, including the McCann agency, are moving forward with is a “connecting people to priceless possibilities” theme. It began with a video (see the clickable priceless possibilities image) that positioned the company as a “force for good” in the world, almost a humanitarian venture.

The film was first introduced to 250 company leaders last year. pet insuranceNow, the campaign is expanding to a set of banners displayed mainly internally, in five U.S. offices, featuring actual employees and their accomplishments.

Garrow and Birenbaum wanted the company’s “drivers of innovation” featured in the campaign: the woman critical to Apple Pay, for example. It wanted to celebrate the individuals who made things happen — not their bosses. When children are featured, they’re the kids of employees. When animals are featured, they’re the pets of employees.

The campaign’s in the early stages. Look for it to expand to an external, recruitment campaign in 2016. It’ll move to the career site, to social media, and perhaps, Garrow hopes, it’ll ultimately be a commercial.

work life balance mastercardHe hopes MasterCard eventually is seen as a great, technology-industry style workplace, not just in the U.S., but worldwide (there’s about a one in two chance a MasterCard employee works outside the U.S.).

“I’m not going to claim victory” yet, he says of the branding campaign. But at least the company is ready for it. “If we started this five years ago, it wouldn’t have worked,” he says. “If we started this three years ago, it wouldn’t have worked.”

initial image from Shutterstock

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