Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 1
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Alfredo Gangotena, CMO, MasterCard Worldwide

On the future of payment cards, the 15-year-old “Priceless” campaign and the marketing lessons a man educated as an engineer learned working for Procter & Gamble


here’s an avalanche of new technology
and new competitors, so the biggest challenge is how a brand can fundamentally center itself and not go astray, simply because there are newfangled ideas.

You see many brands now doing good [with cause-related work], but honestly, if the cause they are involved in is not fundamental to their brand, what good does it do?

Brands are like humans. You can see quickly if somebody or some brand is faking it.

There will be much more competition in electronic payments, but we see ourselves with tremendous strength. We have 1.8 billion cardholders in 200 countries.

We will transfer from plastic to digital eventually, but we are not paranoid about it.

The payment card is not extinct, so while dematerialization will be a fact eventually, it doesn’t matter. It matters that the music is Mozart; it doesn’t matter as much how you are distributing Mozart.
One of the first things I learned at P&G about management is that as an individual, you may have a really difficult moment once or twice a year. When you manage 50 people, you have a difficult moment every week.

You have to focus more on philosophy and go way beyond what is material in any brand or any benefit it provides. The functional piece is important, but you need to go several layers beyond that to find out what matters to consumers.

In an ideal sense, it’s not about brand affinity; it should be about brand love.

You and your favorite sport are like you and your buddy. It is a major passion that we want to be a part of. Usually, we are looking for something that is really meaningful locally or regionally and has a lot of frequency, a daily passion, like the Yankees in New York: strong passions and 81 home games.

We do larger associations … but generally we want [sports] to be local or regional and connect on a daily basis, instead of big events every four years.

I manage very inclusively. I love to think that a team of 10 people can be worth more than 100.

I will admit to being completely and unashamedly biased toward creativity. However, in consumer marketing, creativity that’s not based on insight is meaningless.

I always want to know what our ultimate objective is, instill that in the team and always know where we are on that path.
When you are doing a puzzle, it’s fun to find a piece that fits, but what are you building; what is the vision?

If you want something badly enough and it is fundamental to the brand, just pay the price. What you pay will be multiplied a hundred times, because you will make it flourish.

The worst thing is to piss off your partner by bargaining to death. Afterwards, there will be no creativity.
When I am considering hiring someone, I have one thing in mind. It’s not, “Should that person work for me?” I am thinking about whether that person is such a perfect fit that I would be happy to work for him or her.
We’ve moved from observing “Priceless” moments, like the father-son conversation in the first ad, to enabling “Priceless” experiences. We want to show how MasterCard can add a little bit of “Priceless” in your life.
Our first meeting with The New Yorker magazine, we thought they would open up the doors for us to all these great restaurants and events. Instead, they told us about teaching children how to do cartoons. That has created such incredible memories [through sponsored “Kidtooning” events], because it was something right out of their DNA, I could never have come up with that idea, and it was truly priceless.

The most important lesson from my time at P&G was to know exactly what you are shooting at and fire. They are extremely precise and driven to results. Understand what you’re doing at the end and focus on larger issues.

I get 99 percent of my ideas from just listening.