MasterCard Nears End Of Memorable Moments Campaign

After a year in planning and the sidestepping of a potentially fatal blow with a labor strike averted, MasterCard’s promotion with Major League Baseball is winding down toward a finish at the World Series.

The Memorable Moments campaign, launched in early July during baseball’s All-Star Game, has been running in broadcast, print, Internet and throughout ballparks nationwide. The campaign provides a ballot for baseball fans to vote for the most important event in Major League Baseball history. The winning moment will be announced during the fourth game of the World Series.

It’s MasterCard’s second big promotion with Major League Baseball. A 1999 campaign asked fans to pick their all-star players for an all-century team. The first campaign was kicked off with two TV ads with the “Priceless” message that has worked so well for MasterCard since the late 1990s.

The difference this time around, said MasterCard VP Robert Cramer, is that the Memorable Moments is fully integrated throughout MasterCard, Major League Baseball, multimedia campaigns and partners as diverse as The Sports Authority and American Airlines.

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Cramer spoke during the 8th annual Sports Business Marketing and Sponsorship Forum sponsored by the Strategic Research Institute in New York City. He discussed MasterCard’s reasoning for its heavy involvement in Major League Baseball.

When looking around for a high-profile sponsorship, MasterCard wanted a sport that had a large, passionate fan base and one with major TV exposure.

“That’s very important to us. We’re all about reach,” Cramer said.

MasterCard’s in a unique position because it’s not selling its products when it advertises. Banks that subscribe to the MasterCard payment service sell the products to consumers; MasterCard develops the branding message that encourages consumers to use the credit or debit cards for purchases.

Baseball fit the bill. For its second big campaign, MasterCard last fall went to Major League Baseball and challenged them to come up with a way to use its property to create a fully integrated platform that would work for MasterCard but also Major League Baseball.

“This wasn’t just about us. It was about them, too,” Cramer said.

Major League Baseball came up with the Memorable Moments campaign, which MLB VP John Brody said highlighted baseball’s emotional connection with fans. Baseball also delivered 30 teams, captive audiences in 30 ballparks, mentions in TV and radio accounts of games, a multi-part special on ESPN and prime spots in its signature events, the All-Star Game and the World Series.

MasterCard’s campaign included heavy TV plus print and online that delivered more than 70 million impressions. Member banks were also involved, with 33 million direct-mail pieces stuffed into monthly bills. Other companies wanted to get involved, and Best Western and The Sports Authority used counter space to advertise the campaign. And American Airlines gave the campaign 4 million ticket jackets during the summer.

Throughout the campaign, the specter of a strike loomed over everything. MasterCard didn’t have any assurances that a strike wouldn’t derail the rest of the season, but Cramer said much of the campaign was over by the time the strike would have started. It would have hurt, Cramer said, but a lot of the campaign’s goals had already been achieved even before the Aug. 30 strike date.

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