MasterCard Serves Up Grammy Surprise: Justin Timberlake

Spot Breaking On Awards Show In Sync With Strategy to Evolve 'Priceless'

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Justin Timberlake rang up seven Grammy nominations this year, but tonight he'll be doing a different kind of ringing -- the doorbell of an unsuspecting fan.

In a 45-second spot spot that will debut during The Grammys, Mr. Timberlake will talk and sing with the shellshocked MasterCard cardholder, treating her to a "Priceless Surprise." That's the hashtag (#PricelessSurprises) and theme of the latest evolution of the 17-year-old MasterCard "Priceless" brand campaign.

"It's not just about creating priceless surprises, but about how can we be priceless in people's lives in new and unexpected ways," said Raja Rajamannar, MasterCard's chief marketing officer.

A teaser campaign showing Mr. Timberlake driving a car up to a house and ringing the doorbell, launched on the Friday morning news shows. The teaser and :45 were shot by "Moneyball" director Bennett Miller. The ad agency is McCann XBC.

Two-year deal
Mr. Timberlake's surprise will be the first of more "Priceless Suprises" from MasterCard which will branch out into other fields of entertainment and include MasterCard's other celebrity partnerships. However, future surprises won't be a knock at the door, Mr. Rajamannar said, because that would just well, wouldn't be surprising.

Mr. Rajamannar inherited the two-year deal struck with Mr. Timberlake in early 2013, when he joined MasterCard in September 2013, but is clearly pleased with the association. He said that Mr. Timberlake has a great understanding of his fans and in fact, "co-created the concept" with the MasterCard marketing team. The performer is no stranger to celebrity endorsements, having associations currently and in the past with brands including McDonald's, Sony, Givenchy, Callaway Golf, Audi and Target.

Social media will also play a role in "Priceless Surprises." MasterCard customers will be able to sign up for prizes, such as Justin Timberlake music, signed photos or concert tickets, on Twitter by replying to "Priceless Surprises" tweets.

MasterCard is the world's No. 2 payment network with a 26% market share of card purchases in 2012 in the U.S., trailing Visa which had 55%, according to Nilson Report. Visa also edged out MasterCard in Brandz list of most powerful global brands, with Visa at No. 9 and MasterCard at No. 20 in 2013.

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