MasterCard Scans Upgrades for Customers in Theaters
For more than 100 unsuspecting MasterCard holders, a night at the theater turned into a night to remember, thanks to a technology-infused surprise and delight campaign.
MasterCard’s Priceless Surprises program teamed up with various cultural institutions in New York City, including Carnegie Hall and The Palace Theatre, to instantly identify cardmembers and reward them for their loyalty upon entry into a variety of artistic performances.
Recognizing that time is of the essence prior to a show, it was critical to connect with consumers at their first point of contact. So MasterCard tapped into an existing ticket scanning technology designed for consumer entry at venues to activate efficiently without derailing patrons who were awaiting their much-anticipated performance.
To achieve this, MasterCard worked with its partners to identify cardmembers prior to a performance. The process was straightforward for the venue, which simply had to extract the relevant data prior to each show. The scanning technology varied by venue, but the delivery and back-end programming was consistent at every location. Each venue created a CSI message (“Priceless Surprise”) and a distinct audible signal that was coded to flag all guest ID numbers associated with tickets purchased with a MasterCard. The venue then uploaded the message to each ticket order ID in the system, which could be done in bulk via an Excel spreadsheet. As a result, when a cardmember’s ticket was scanned on the night of a performance, a unique chime could be heard by anyone within close proximity. The cardholder was then instantly rewarded by brand ambassadors on-site who delivered branded gold envelopes revealing a variety of gifts such as event-specific tote bags, seat upgrades and even meet-and-greets with the talent.
While the ticket scanning technology was not new, MasterCard’s use of it was, and the success of the Priceless Surprises campaigns relied heavily on identifying and rewarding cardmembers without interfering with the performances they were so eager to attend. The technology also allowed the brand to engage with consumers organically, yet still conduct an interactive experience—a challenge in many performing arts venues, given their limited space.
With the ability to identify MasterCard ticket purchases, the brand’s twist on surprise and delight engagements ultimately delivered on-the-spot rewards to more than 100 unsuspecting cardmembers, and elicited card-envy from anyone within earshot of the ticket scanner.
Campaign results brought the house down. Although MasterCard’s ticket scanning technology could only be evaluated on a per event basis, results from the brand’s activation at the 100th performance of “An American in Paris” represented the program’s overall success: The event garnered 6.5 million earned media impressions, 1.5 million paid media impressions and was picked up by seven major Broadway press outlets.