Mastercard Puts Altruistic Spin On 'Priceless' Campaign

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Twenty years after starting its Priceless campaign, Mastercard is switching it up and asking consumers to take action. On Thursday morning, the Purchase, New York-based company is debuting its "Start Something Priceless" campaign that pushes people around the globe to do something to improve the world, either on their own, or through a Mastercard donation program.

"What we are trying to do, unlike before, is trying to take a more active role in generating a movement around Priceless," says Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard. He notes that this is the third iteration of the campaign, developed with McCann; the first 16-year-old phase was around celebrating priceless moments in life, and the recent four years were spent enabling the campaign through various partnerships.

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres will kick off the new effort with a tweet on Thursday. Mastercard intends to premiere a music video, in which a group of artists sing about the biases they've overcome, on Monday ahead of a week-long effort preceding the Grammy Awards on Jan. 28. Mastercard will air the film during the awards, which will be in New York. It will also host a Mastercard House in Manhattan for the week where Mastercard users can attend concerts and experiences.

Rajamannar notes that the "Start Something" campaign has been in the works for about a year and that Mastercard first tested it on its 15,000 employees. Some staffers are using the platform to create a "salsa" challenge in support of curing ALS disease. Mastercard is also running global initiatives, like interactive billboards in Paris where consumers can donate a week of meals to hungry schoolchildren.

In addition to the Grammys, Mastercard will run various programing around other large events throughout the year including the Rugby World Cup and Cannes Film Festival.

While Rajamannar declined to specify how much the brand is spending on the new Priceless phase, he noted that it is on par with previous iterations if not more. In 2016, Mastercard spent nearly $811 million on marketing and advertising, 1 percent less than in 2015, according to company financials.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article >said Ellen DeGeneres would help promote the new Mastercard effort with a mention on her show. She did not bring it up.

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