Does a brand need a ‘flavour’? Mastercard’s CMO thinks it does

In a world where sonic logos and sensory experiences are becoming par for the course does your brand need a flavour? Mastercard’s chief marketing officer Raja Rajamanner thinks it does – which is why customers can now (quite literally) take a bite out of the brand.

The financial giant has just unveiled ‘The First Taste of Priceless’ – a campaign which introduces two bespoke macaron flavours designed to underscore Mastercard’s famed tagline. The signature sweet will be available at events sponsored by Mastercard and “internally baked into the core of its culture.”

The move comes hot on the heels of the launch of Mastercard’s first flagship ‘Priceless’ restaurant in New York and a Bistro in Rome International Airport, which are part of a strategy from Rajamanner on appealing to customers’ “sense and sensibilities” to “cut through the clutter” and link the brand to experiences.

“The macarons are one more step to really get into the tastebuds of our customer and provide them with something really unique and extraordinary,” explained the marketer at Advertising Week New York.

Inspired by its intersection circles logo, the French treats were developed by sugar artists Kreëmart. The two flavours, ‘passion’ and ‘optimism’ use the raw ingredients of custard apple and yuzu; which The Drum can contest has a distinctly tangy taste.

Luxury baker Laudre is producing the French treats, which are just the latest manifestation of the “multisensory brand expression” Mastercard has been slowly but surely rolling out to make its ‘Priceless’ proposition “more tangible”.

Having pivoted to experience-based marketing and away from “storytelling,” Rajamanner said his vision is that Mastercard will move deeper into the culinary space and have “a large chain of restaurants around the world”.

“It changes the brand perception and takes interaction to a new level entirely,” he added.

Building a multi-sensory brand

As it seeks to build out a “brand DNA” that customers can see, hear and now taste, Rajamanner’s marketing department has been making some bold moves.

“We’re in marketing 5.0, it’s the era of sense and sensibility. The manifestation of all the technology [available to marketers] means that a lot of dehumanisation is going to happen, there’s going to be a dislocation and displacement of human interaction even more than what we’ve witnessed in the last five years.

“The next phase for marketers is bringing the human back into human interactions and understanding the sensibilities of human beings – not just interests and desires, but the finer subtle elements of individuals. Moving your brand and its boundaries is the only way to connect with consumers in a compelling and impactful way.”

Earlier this year, the company dropped its name from its branding. Then, in February it debuted its sonic logo, a unique melody that plays when customers interact with the brand in-store and online.

To ensure the sound resonates with global audiences, Mastercard tapped musicians and agencies from across the globe to record different versions of it, including Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park.

As well as local versions, the sound can also be adapted for different situations, with varying instruments and tempos delivering it in operatic, cinematic and playful styles.

Next year Mastercard is going to build on all this by dropping its own record, said Rajamanner.

“A lot of stuff is going to happen in this space. Mastercard is hopefully going to release its first album in March and we’re working with a number of artists around the world.

“Some are top notch, some are looking for a platform to showcase their talent. When you hear it you should know that it’s Mastercard, but in a very non annoying, non-intrusive fashion.”

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