We want to make sure that we are serving a larger purpose in the world: Raja Rajamannar of Mastercard

Pranali Tawte
New Update
Raja Rajamannar

As Mastercard announces the beginning of its partnership with ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, Raja Rajamannar speaks to Social Samosa about supporting different global sports, why it is important to support a cause in marketing and preparing for a new landscape of marketing shaped by AI.

As the world gears up for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, Mastercard has announced a global partnership to resonate with cricket enthusiasts.

“People are passionate about cricket and India is one of the fastest growing markets, one of the biggest opportunities for any company in the future. We have to obviously establish ourselves here and gain consumer favor. So cricket is a wonderful route to get into that,” said Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Mastercard.

The brand had a partnership with The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as the Title Sponsor for home cricket matches for the 2022-23 season.


As per Rajamannar, the results of the brand's involvement in cricket were extremely positive. This encouraged the brand to get deeper. 

“Fortunately for us, the World Cup is happening in India this year where the scale is going to be completely different than what it has, what it can be elsewhere,” he added.

The brand will soon launch a campaign targeted towards cricket fans ahead of ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 following a 360-degree approach.

Batting on Experiential 

The brand aims to leverage all five senses to curate experiences when there’s high-decibel noise everywhere, he highlighted.

Further, in addition to the exclusive 24-hour pre-sale window, Mastercard cardholders will be able to avail a number of benefits. These opportunities include the chance to meet cricket legends, get up close to the Men’s Cricket World Cup trophy, and access on match days to events like opening and closing ceremonies. Kids of cardholders aged between 12-18 years will also have the chance to be a part of the flagbearer program. There will be a few sofas outside the perimeter board to watch cricket from.

Differentiating Mastercard to stand out in the clutter, Rajamannar said, “You’ll feel incredibly special when you go there, sit on that sofa and watch it. It's an experience that becomes truly memorable and when you know that experience has been curated for you by Mastercard, your feelings towards the brand go pretty positive and you're automatically differentiating the brand from any other brand out there.”

Apart from experiential, on social media, the brand looks at paid media, earned media, and owned channels.

“We talk about things that are of value and relevance to people and we try to create those moments that get us that earned media. Paid media is treated like any other media that we pay. Part of paid media could also be through influencers and part of it could be directly with publishers,” said Rajamannar.

The Sports Angle

The brand has also been a sponsor of international sports, teams, and individuals, like the annual club association football competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA Champions League), the professional golf tours in the United States and North America (PGA Tour), Major League Baseball (MLB), Ski sports, Ice hockey, the French Open tennis and the Australian Open tennis, Arsenal women's team, Leonardo Messi, Mahindra Singh Dhoni, and more.


“We try to identify opportunities in that sport that we can leverage whether it is – for example – sponsorship of sporting events, teams or it could be sponsorship of individuals.”

He explained that the brand will be bringing the concepts that it has seen in the world of soccer, tennis, or elsewhere now into cricket as well.

Rajamannar said, “We try to take success and learning from one part of the world and replicate them in other parts of the world. We have got the benefit of being a global company. We don't have to reinvent the wheel each time we build upon success in one place into other places and what we have learned that is not working, we avoid doing those in other markets.”

Moving ahead, the brand will continue to support sports around the world.

“Sports marketing is probably one of the biggest areas where we focus on because sport is one of the biggest passion points for consumers around the world. Music and cinemas, they all come later,” he added.

Scoring Gen Z

Between sports and finance, brands have been finding middle grounds to connect with younger generations. 

Rajamannar believes that the Gen Z is extremely demanding and different. He explained that one needs to understand their psychology, and their psycho graphics, to understand what drives them.

“Gen Z is much more society-oriented. While Baby boomers are a little bit more self-centered, Gen Z is much more outward-centered.”

This is also seen in studies.

“The research says that if everything else is equal, Gen Z will go for a brand that is environmentally responsible and socially responsible. A significant cohort says that even if everything is not equal and if the pricing is higher, I'll still go for that brand, which does good to the society,” added Rajamannar.

He shared a few tips for the brands on how to connect with Gen Z:

  • One of the best ways for companies to connect with Gen Z is firstly to study and understand them. Brands don't have to do primary studies themselves, they can learn from what is already present there.

  • Secondly, brands need to find passion points that they can engage the Gen Z audiences with whether it is music, or electronic dance. For example, in music, electronic dance music is much more popular with the Gen Z, whereas classical music is for different generation or Bollywood is for a different one.

  • Brands need to understand not only the passion point or passion category but also how that passion category is engaged wiith, with what subcategory, and what method and then start playing in those areas to connect with them.

  • Don't try to simply put out ads in front of Gen Z. That's waste of money. You need to connect with them.

  • Gen Z will connect only if they are interested. So brands have to create that interest; part of it could be social causes.

Focus Areas 

Apart from betting on sports, Mastercard is amping up its focus on technology in marketing. 

“A lot of new technologies like AI generative AI, augmented reality AR are all coming in. So we want to make sure that we understand what these technologies are, the good, bad, and the ugly of these technologies to be able to leverage them appropriately and to deploy them in the context of our business smartly and sensibly,” said Rajamannar.

As the landscape changes rapidly, Mastercard, secondly, will focus on finding best talent in the world and training them to take on the challenges of the future. 

The brand also wants to serve a purpose because Rajamannar believes that money eventually follows.

“We want to make sure that we are serving a larger purpose in the world, not just winning business, but we are also operating in a purpose-driven fashion, whether it is a social cause, like gender balance, or it could be environment and the climate change or it could be saving the wildlife. We want to make sure that we want to be a purpose-driven company in a sincere way, not just from a sound bite’s perspective, and pursue that. In doing that, marketing can play a very critical role. When you truly pursue the passion, profits will eventually follow,” said Rajamannar.

sports marketing mastercard ICC ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 Cricket World Cup 2023