Against the 360-degree clutter of advertising, brands have upped their sponsorship and brand partnership game in recent years. By aligning with entertainment and sports brands that already lock in those fleeting attention spans, they often hope to embed in consumer consciousness more effectively. The decades-old money transfer brand MoneyGram caught our attention with their sponsorship of the Haas F1 racing team, because it seems to be much more fully integrated than slapping a logo on a sexy car and racing overalls. You can listen to the entire podcast at this link.
As you can see from some of the embedded creative, MoneyGram riffed creatively off of the affinities with F1 in a number of ways. And as Global Head of Brand Creative Services and CRM, Michael Catanzaro, tells us this week, the racing team alliance is now driving all aspects of its marketing efforts throughout the funnel.
MediaPost: What is MoneyGram’s basic functionality and position in the peer-to-peer payments money space?
Catanzaro: Coming aboard here only year and a half ago, I really didn't know what MoneyGram was. And I think that's a consistent, unfortunate challenge that this brand has -- being 80 years old and really one of the leaders in global peer-to-peer remittance around the world. Certainly, over the last five to ten years, digital remittance has grown and started to outpace at least some of the expectations from a younger audience standpoint where MoneyGram couldn't and should go. And as a brand, it's really unknown. Some folks certainly use other brands, things like domestic app-to-app, bank account to bank account, debit card to debit card. This one goes cross border. We help immigrants from our audience who now live and work abroad to be able to send money back home. It is somebody who needs those transactions to be simple, quick, convenient, have currency exchange built in, and make that money available within minutes at times for that loved one living back home.
MP: So, with that core demographic in mind, what have media channels have you relied on for the full funnel?
Catanzaro: In the last five to ten years, it's digital, it’s direct. And we saw, even from a marketing branding transformation standpoint, everybody's going digital, direct, and optimizing and A/B testing, and yadda-yadda, which certainly can have its successes when it comes to things like cost per acquisition and building transactions and that kind of thing. But it does have unfortunate erosion of brand sentiment over time, because then it just only as good as your last cost and you're certainly as good as your last promotion. Digital channels, mobile, social, UAC, Google, etc. have really driven the media plan over the last few years, and then certainly during COVID, where 400,000 retail locations couldn't serve this anymore. You had to go to the app. We actually saw some pretty significant digital growth and we're continuing to expect that.
MP: Before we leave the media side, I want to talk about competition, Venmo, Cash App, Zelle, and then, of course, before that Western Union. What are the key differentiators for you?
Catanzaro: As an 80-year-old brand, we really are facing competition on two fronts. And then, therefore, we're also facing a growth opportunity with two audiences – our repeat customer audience, and then certainly any new customers and particularly digital native younger customers. Our point of differentiation really starts with our equities, which is a global footprint. We are pretty much everywhere. One of the stats I heard around here was 430,000 plus location. That means we have more access to retail from a retail standpoint. That's Starbucks, Subway, and McDonald’s combined. That's great. But it's a legacy, and that's not really where we want to grow. But it's certainly part of the way our customers access who we are. As much as digital transactions are increasing, the output is still being able to cash out somewhere. And so, our point of difference really is that global network to be able to cash in and cash out anywhere in the world largely but then also still be able to access it conveniently through now with a digital app and digital properties. But also, the fintech innovations, where we're growing. Now the next step is also to provide more opportunity beyond even remittance, potentially for customers to move and manage their money all around the world.
MP: You're not just superficially sponsoring something and hoping to get your name out there to use this as an alternative channel for brand lift. But this is a real integration. More than just slapping your brand on an existing property you're pulling F1 into all of your material and brand identity. What was the ideation process for this?
Catanzaro: The two strategic directions we created some criteria around were one from a brand level. How do we help our customers feel like they're on our team? And when we say our team now, it's amplified by being on a team that technically includes the MoneyGram Formula 1 team. When you go on YouTube, you can see literally what MoneyGram is, when would you choose MoneyGram, why choose MoneyGram, some additional content is coming out around that. And we use the voices of our MoneyGram F1 team, Kevin, Nico, Gunther, etc. talking about what it takes to run an F1 team, and therefore also creating that synergy so like what it takes to run MoneyGram and then what it takes from MoneyGram to serve its customers all around the world.
The second part was this idea - we put customers in the driver’s seat by giving them the technology they need to move and manage money all around the world. Of course, therefore, powered by MoneyGram, which F1 team now is a metaphor for MoneyGram, which is a fast, innovative, reliable team. That's where the “Drive Your Dreams” concept came from. As we took an insight from understanding of what our customers are trying to do all around the world, moving home, sacrificing, being humble and selfless by sending that prosperity back home so everybody prospers.
The “Drive Your Dreams” video then really became an opportunity for customers on the same track Road of Life, Human Race. It is representative of MoneyGram and how they help drive your world forward and allow you to really achieve the dreams that you have. So, the tonality of that is a bit more optimistic, joyful, positive, empowering, etc., which all gets fit into our new brand guidelines.
We have a contest called Fast Money Giveaway, where every week people can win up to $50,000 a week. In weekend, customer that transact can get randomly selected for an opportunity to have an experience with the team behind the scenes. There will be more and more of these things to come that are encapsulated on what we call a hub that has content every week updated by Gunther giving you an exclusive race preview, a partnership with one of our media partners, who do some exclusive content for us, and then also give people an opportunity to play the Fast Money Giveaway game. So again, our customers feel like they've got access to this really exclusive sport, while we still are able to amplify and certainly leverage the equity of what the MoneyGram has set for F1 teams.
MP: Tell us a little bit about the media plan here. What has this allowed you to do in terms of sort of traditional media reach and creative and using different sorts of media across global footprint?
Catanzaro: The medium is the message, the sponsorship is the megaphone, and by doing so we're buying broadcast impressions all over the world as our upper funnel media. Then delivering, validating, integrating our own content mid to low funnel currently, but yes with plans to go upper funnel as well… slowly, appropriately, targeted. In terms of where this new branded content will run, it does deserve to be upper funnel, but we're not absent from upper funnel with our F1 partnership.
MP: Are there particular key lessons you've learned so far about how to do this well, or how to kick sponsorship up to the next level?
Catanzaro: I would say that the winning formula has always been authenticity. It's got to feel like you both care, and particularly about who your audiences are, which in this case is our remittance customers and our fintech customers. We want to create value in more of the authentic way we're helping our customers serve and get access to things. It really allows us to say, hey, this is actually an amplifier, a bullhorn for us to get more people in our family and in our community, that way you can actually receive and access the things we're trying to do for you. And so, I feel like in that situation, and certainly in the short term we've been doing this, so far has felt fruitful and successful because people feel like it's very genuine.