Raahil Chopra
Sep 21, 2016

Spikes Asia 2016: 'Engagement can be done with real stories'

MasterCard's Sam Ahmed was in conversation with Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor

Spikes Asia 2016: 'Engagement can be done with real stories'
On day one of Spikes Asia 2016, Sam Ahmed, head of marketing - Apac, MasterCard, spoke about the importance of businesses 'doing well' and 'doing good' at the same time.
"There's nationalism sweeping countries across Asia and even in the USA. Consumers are asking businesses, 'What are you doing for me, what are you doing for my community and my country?' Then, CEOs are asking marketing, 'What is it doing for the companies?' The easy 10 per cent year-on-year growth is slowing down and getting pretty tough. You have to fight for that extra 1 per cent growth," said Ahmed.
He added, "There has to be scale to do well. We have got three pillars to do well and do good. The pillars are: creativity, technology and partnerships."
Ahmed furthered his point with a case study from India from 2015 for MasterCard.
"For us at MasterCard, we're not just competing with Visa, but with the internet on a day-to-day basis," he added.
Ahmed spoke about a campaign the brand did in collaboration with HDFC for Independence Day in India, #PowerOfOne.
"For the campaign, we listened to technology and figured that people were proud of Indian heroes and celebrated them," he said.
With that he called upon actor Anil Kapoor, who was part of the campaign, to the dais.
Ahmed asked Kapoor how he manages to attract people to pay to watch his work, while the advertising industry struggles to get people to watch work for free.
Urging brands to be entertaining and patient, the actor said, "The basic core is entertainment. Entertainment with content is the key. I took time to be sustained as a brand too. After that the trust came. It has taken me years. It sometimes happens overnight, but it generally takes time."
The duo then continued to talk about MasterCard's #PowerOfOne campaign. 
Ahmed observed, "We looked at four things for this campaign. We wanted to celebrate India's unsung heroes. We also wanted to build an emotional connect. We wanted to empower people to do good, and so we partnered with HDFC Bank who had the same thoughts. The campaign was split up where the person nominating the unsung hero would win a trip to South Africa (Mahatma Gandhi's reformation happened there) and the nominated person could win Rs 12,00,000. " 
Kapoor said that the great thing about this campaign was that it had a message of doing good. He  shared an anecdote when his film, Mr India, was released.
"The great Subhash Ghai saw the film and said it was great entertainment, but asked about the message being delivered. So, we added a scene to get the message through. For the (MasterCard) film we had to make it real too. I got the structure, and worked on making it (and keeping it) real. No movement could be fake."
The actor left the stage with a message about partnerships. "Life is all about partnerships. Partnerships must be mutual and giving."
Ahmed surmised, "Engagement can be done with real stories."
Campaign India

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