Sunday, October 14, 2007

The puck stops here

I wanted to congratulate and thank MasterCard Canada, for their generous donation to the City of Toronto, helping ease a municipal budget shortfall and ensuring our outdoor public skating rinks can open in early December, in time for the holiday season.

It's a great example of leadership trumping politics; a case study in corporate social responsibility matching community interest. And it's such a simple, yet utterly compelling story.

Kevin Stanton, president of MasterCard Canada, moves to Toronto with his family in 2003. One of his first 'priceless' moments is watching kids playing shinny at a local rink. Fast forward to 2007, the outdoor rinks in danger of a late opening (despite the fact that the City still has to cover the workers' pay). Stanton comes to the rescue by offering to donate the full amount ($160,000) with no strings attached. And he gives credit to his team for the idea.

Yes, MasterCard got a lot of ink for the announcement. But I think they deserved it. And at least two media outlets referenced the ad tagline.

From a PR perspective, I can only sit on the sidelines, slightly green with envy, and admire the way it played out. MasterCard scored an overtime goal and credibly brought their corporate tagline to life.

It almost makes me more sympathetic to high interest rates.

2 comments:

David Jones said...

A well-played PR one-off. It had all the elements for success:
- current social trend
- newsworthiness
- charity
- first, best or only
- great brand link

The simplest ideas work best, don't they? Elaborate promotions activated in the media with store-level POP just don't get the same buzz because they are too contrived. MasterCard could've run a promotion and given away $500,000 to some random cardholder and they would've received zero coverage unless the winner had a compelling story.

One thing to keep in mind, though: the banks that issue the cards set the interest rates, not the card companies. Card companies get their money from the fees they charge merchants.

Martin Waxman said...

They sure do. We're drawn to good stories (though even lesser ones sometimes capture our attention).

Thanks for the clarification on interest rates, David. Though I was trying for levity, I stand corrected.