Multi-sensory Marketing and Mastercard

Published: June 30, 2023

min read

Typical marketing strategy includes the use of two senses – sight and sound.

Mastercard took it to a whole different level by including the other senses as well.

People receive information from their surroundings through the five sensory aspects – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. As marketers, we typically target sight and sound, and that too, not in a very scientific way.

Raja Rajamannar,

Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, President Healthcare Business, Mastercard.

So in a new and completely different campaign, they studied the two senses closely and took that to a different level of depth and also incorporated the other senses of touch, smell and taste in their marketing plans.

Experience-led activity is something Mastercard had always done. They would invite people to come to a different place – like New York or Berlin or Los Angeles and let them experience an activity together.

While this is not that difficult to do in a physical context, it is not easy to pull off in a digital world. But do it, they did!

Based on consumer research, the brand found that one of the most common experiences that people have, is a cooking class. And so Mastercard decided to tap into young families and get them all involved in a cooking class run by a celebrity chef.

The idea was to get the whole family involved – parents and children. And there would be a celebrity chef to guide the family through the whole process of baking a cake! On Zoom. Families then had a complete experience which involved all the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste!

When that is done by the family, it becomes an unforgettable experience. It's almost like going on a vacation and coming back and sort of immersed in the entire experience leveraging all their five senses. This is one simple example of how we have done it and got thousands of families around the world involved.

Raja Rajamannar

Multi-sensory messaging in a bi-sensory world

Mastercard is a brand that doesn’t come up with random ideas for marketing. They start by looking for an insight that is based on analysis and observation and research. This is the seed of the creative campaign they come up with.

As they did in this campaign – they did their research first to find that cooking is an experience that families enjoy doing together. And so they based their campaign on that.

And created a multi-sensory campaign!

That is sheer genius!

Take a look around – every brand is engaged in brand messaging that is based on what customers can see visually and what they can hear. In such a world where everyone is bombarded by campaigns that are based heavily on sight and sound, here is something completely different. And this is the differentiator that cuts through all the noise and clutter and emerge as something completely distinct and different.

So here is an initiative where there is a celebrity cook who bakes a cake on Zoom and thousands of families across the world participate in. There is the visual – where they can see what is going on. They can hear the celebrity cook speak – which takes care of the auditory aspect. And then the family actually gets their hands dirty in the flour and the eggs and the cake mixture, which is a nod to the tactile. They can smell the cake baking and they can finally taste it! Every sense is taken care of.

This is something that not many brands do. Most brands stick to the sight and sound paradigms and are done with it. Taking things down a multi-sensory route is truly something that makes Mastercard stand out from the rest.

They are also great at focusing on creating great experiences and memories that customers can make, in their marketing messaging. So here is something that the whole family is involved in, creating magical memories as they bake a cake together. And the positive feelings that this experience evokes will somehow always be associated with the brand.

Like their old marketing messaging used to say – there are some things that money cannot buy. But for everything else, there is Mastercard.


Bill Walker

Bill is a marketing strategist who believes in the power of storytelling. He's known for his creativity, wit, and ability to connect with audiences across all channels. When he's not crafting marketing campaigns, you can find him hiking in the mountains or reading a good book.


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