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Advertising Week 10th Anniversary Official Guide

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Page 213 of 333

212 BRAND ED Remember the days when a successful ad campaign revolved around creating a compelling narrative, adding a clever punch line, finding a compatible media outlet, and letting your well-craƁed story do the talking for you? That was so 2016. Today, consumers do not want to be told a story, not even a very good one. The evidence? "In Q4 of 2016, data shows there were 198 million users of ad blockers," says Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing Officer of Mastercard. "By Q1 of this year, that number had grown to 225 million ad blocker users. People are clearly saying, 'I don't want your stories anymore—they annoy me.'" And that leaves marketers with a puzzle: How do you engage with an audience that no longer wants to be spoon-fed brand infor- mation in the middle of their favorite show? "The idea of story-making versus storytell- ing is a strategic shift, where consumers become part of creating the brand story," says Rajamannar. "We are targeting experiences we know our customers are passionate about, and finding ways to con- nect with them that feel authentic." You might call it the NASCAR approach. Long before DVRs and ad-free program- ming, America's favorite auto-racing series realized the tremendous exposure oppor- tunity for sponsors putting their names on the side of fan-favorite cars as they whizzed around the racetrack—and TV screens—at 200 mph. Like the driver, like the team… like the brand. Simple. Today, this approach can be seen in football stadiums, music arenas, movie theaters and more. But now it has to be about more than just a logo. Beyond signage, "you have to look at what you can offer customers that makes them feel special," says Rajamannar, who notes Mastercard's partnerships include the GRAMMY Awards, Cannes Film Festival, and the MLB All-Star Game, events that were chosen because they reflect the interests of the company's roughly 1.7 bil- lion customers. And this approach works. According to a national survey by the Event Marketing Institute, three in four people say exclusive brand experiences offered at a sponsored event improves their opinion of the brand. To that end, Mastercard offers special queues at some venues, where those with tickets purchased through the company can cut the long line on the way to the event. And expanding on its well-known Priceless series, the brand has started promoting exclusive experiences that can only obtained with its card. One such moment: A chance to meet global pop star Robbie Williams. The surprised fan was awestruck—and when she described her experience on social media, Mastercard reached an expo- nential number of potential new customers with every re-post. Sometimes, story-making is as much about giving as it is about getting. Millennials in particular are motivated by the chance to do good: 87 percent give money to philan- thropic causes each year, according to a 2016 report by the Case Foundation, and the demographic is significantly more likely to make a purchase because the money helps a charity, according to the Boston Consulting Group. That statistic bore fruit for Mastercard and its partnership with the nonprofit Stand Up to Cancer, when they launched a dining- out campaign where the company donates a small percentage of the cost of meals purchased with their card to support cancer research. It gave the brand top-of-wallet status for consumers, and during an 8-week period last summer, it raised $4 million for the cancer charity. Inviting consumers to participate in an experience or movement—one that hap- pens to be sponsored by your brand—does not tell them the story about who you are in the way traditional advertising would. But in successfully partnering with a music, sports, philanthropy or other event, you are creating a personal connection with con- sumers, and the story being made through that shared experience could be the one that wins your brand business now—and into the future. " The idea of story-making versus storytelling is a strategic shift, where consumers become part of creating the brand story."

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