Sports have come back to our TV screens, but fans still can’t gather in full force to cheer on their favorite squads.
And that’s a missed opportunity for brand managers, who often pepper these games and gatherings with marketing messages, promotions and giveaways. However, Mastercard wanted to fill the void many are feeling about not being able to commune with fellow fans in support of their favorite sports club.
They decided to go big.
Mastercard’s “Priceless Wave” campaign is all about getting users to join together in a collective activity during the UEFA Champions League final games. The men’s final was played over the weekend, and the women’s final will be held Sunday, August 30. The brand hoped to “break a world record with the largest digital celebration ‘wave’ ever created on social media.”
The effort was set up as a challenge on the fast-growing platform TikTok where the concept of a “challenge”—getting many people to participate in a shared activity—has really taken off. Fans were encouraged to record themselves raising their arms in the “wave” motion that is common at sports events.
Rose Beaumont, senior vice president of business enablement and communications at Mastercard, explained the decision to go with TikTok as the platform of choice.
“Since the start of the pandemic, TikTok has seen exponential growth, transforming from a young person’s only club into a place where everyone can express themselves in their own unique ways,” she says. “We are excited to see how the TikTok audience will engage with Mastercard #PricelessWave creative. Fans coming together is the fundamental glue of any sporting event… in this “new normal” it is imperative to find engaging creative ways to connect people to their passions.”
Beaumont also says that the news around a potential TikTok ban in the U.S. didn’t sway the brand on choosing its social media platform. “It is important for brands to be aware of these conversations and developments but we’re creating something for fans, not for headlines,” she says.
The effort wasn’t just on TikTok but was also supported on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.
Sports are an opportunity during COVID-19
Sports events have offered a unique opportunity for brands to engage during COVID-19, when many consumers are stuck at home and looking for entertainment—a void that is being filled by games played in empty stadiums.
For Mastercard, engaging around a sports event is nothing new.
“We know that what matters to people are the things they are passionate about and sports is a key area of people’s passions,” Beaumont says. “We are all partially defined by those big set-piece sporting moments; everyone knows where they were when watching the Rugby World Cup or a UEFA Champions League Final.”
Beaumont also says that engaging within sports offers a way to break through all the bad news and reach overwhelmed audiences looking for uplifting content.
“Sports is a part of what makes us human, a desire to achieve and push the boundaries of human ability,” she says. “Even the most ardent sports-phobe can still find moments of joy in our collective love of the games. Right now, sports can provide respite from the other news dominating the airwaves and pages.”
What does success look like for this kind of campaign?
“We have multiple metrics of success, whether that be views and engagement with a specific creative, or visits to a digital destination like Priceless.com to unlock further engagement,” Beaumont says. “Ultimately, like any brand and business, success is about driving affection for the products and solutions we deliver, by helping people understand how and why they matter to them and how they can make their lives easier. If a football fan recognizes that Mastercard can get them closer to the game and closer to the excitement, we believe they will see the value of the Priceless possibilities we are creating for them.”
For brands looking to make a splash—or a wave—in a similar way online, Beaumont says that the big takeaway is to be willing to turn the campaign over to creators and users.
“As a brand, be comfortable with surrendering a level of control to the creators on the platform, and that’s cool,” she says. “Provided you are creating a movement or an experience that is true to the values and purpose of your brand, how that comes to life for people is in their hands.”
Here are some of the videos users made for the challenge: