MasterCard Launches Integrated Summer Promo

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MasterCard International last week introduced "Summer Escape," its most Internet-focused promotion.


To draw consumers to its MasterCard Exclusives Online merchant program, the company launched its "Summer Sports Escapes" segment of the promotion at MasterCard.com.


Consumers can play three sports-themed games at the site and can enter to win one of three "dream" sports packages. The MasterCard Home Run Sweepstakes, for example, gives each entrant the chance to win a grand prize package that includes four tickets to the World Series and the chance to meet Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.


Visitors also can play an interactive video game in which they try to hit the farthest home run. If a player makes it onto the game's leader board, he will receive a copy of EA Sports Triple Play Baseball video game.


MasterCard leveraged its extensive relationships with Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the Professional Golfers' Association of America to put together the packages, said Chris O'Neill, vice president of global marketing communications at MasterCard International, Purchase, NY. The idea is that once customers come to the site for the contests, "they'll sign up for MasterCard Exclusives Online," he said.


This merchant program asks consumers to sign up to receive e-mail offers from select merchants such as eBags.com, MammothGolf.com and Ashford.com.


MasterCard began its Internet push because "like many other companies, we recognize the value the Internet plays," O'Neill said. "We've had a presence online for a number of years. This is the first year we dived deep into the interactive experience for the consumer online. It's a great opportunity to educate them about MasterCard Exclusives Online."


Summer is one of the credit card company's peak periods as consumers do "more travel spending," O'Neill said. "It's a good time to go out there and raise brand awareness." The promotion runs through Aug. 31.


Last year, MasterCard held an extensive promotion tying in with "All-Century" team voting. "We wanted to do something similar leveraging our same properties. Only this year, it's much more interactive with the online games," said O'Neill.


Offline, every time a cardholder uses his MasterCard, he automatically will be entered to win the chance to have family vacations funded for the next 20 years. Program partners include Mobil (win free gas for 20 summers), Alamo Rent-A-Car (save 20 percent when using the card) and Omaha Steaks (save up to 60 percent when using MasterCard).


To promote the contest, network television commercials began earlier this month during shows such as "ER," "Frasier" and "Late Show with David Letterman."


MasterCard also is running ads across a variety of cable channels, including VH1, ESPN and CNN. Print ads break today in Redbook, Good Housekeeping and Time. The company also made a significant banner buy.


"The ad buying was general because this promotion is geared pretty much for everyone, because it's the idea of summer escape and whatever that means for you," said O'Neill. "The media run the gamut in terms of audiences."


Other elements of the online promotion include the "MasterCard Tee-Off Sweepstakes" and its grand prize of a trip for four to Scotland to play three British Open courses; and "The MasterCard Rapid Shot Sweepstakes," with a grand prize of a trip to the 2001 NHL Stanley Cup Finals with Bobby Orr.
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