The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

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By Dani Gibson, Senior Writer

March 7, 2023 | 8 min read

Continuing The Drum’s Chair Leaders series, editor-in-chief Gordon Young meets with Raja Rajamannar the chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard who will lead the jury of The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas.

Rajamannar is a celebrated author of the Wall Street Journal, and best-selling book, Quantum Marketing as well as the president of Mastercard’s healthcare division. Ahead of the award jury deliberating this year’s nominated work (there’s still time to enter), Young sat down with the marketing expert to discuss what makes an award-winning campaign.

The new age of tech and creativity

In 2022, Virgin Media brought people together across the United Kingdom during the pandemic restrictions by launching a world-first hologram experience connecting diners in both London and Edinburgh with the ‘Two Hearts Pizzeria’ campaign. It was highly commended at The Drum Awards for Marketing in the Best technology-led innovation of the year and Best Brand Experience or Event categories.

Rajamannar said of the work: “When you add 5G and things like holographic projections, it takes that proximity to a different level and makes it super realistic. They connected people from different parts of the world, in different geographies, and made them feel that they were sitting at the same table. And that’s incredibly powerful.

“It was a very beautiful leverage of advanced technology. It’s reimagining creativity and leveraging the power of technology, and that’s the beauty of it”.

Following on from his 2021 best-selling Wall Street Journal book, Quantum Marketing, Rajamannar explains that marketing as we know it is dying and it’s entering a new paradigm.

“We’re on the cusp between the fourth and fifth paradigms of marketing. It must understand consumers' lives, how they behave, how they think, and how they act and plug into those nuances to be able to differentiate itself, stay ahead of the competition, and be most meaningful to consumers.

“Each time marketing has moved from one paradigm to the next, it was because of technology. And to navigate this paradigm is why we require a new form of marketing.”

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Engaging all five senses

Mastercard has reached new levels in its marketing by touching upon all five human senses with its multisensory campaigns. Brands tend to only touch upon sight and sound, but in 2022, Pantene mastered touch with its ‘Miracles Silky & Glowing’ product launch. To this end, it won the New Product or Service Launch Strategy of the Year category at The Drum Awards for Marketing.

To launch the new range Pantene drove meaningful brand engagement and product differentiation with a positive impact.

“They cottoned on to the fact that brands should be directly addressing people who are visually impaired,” says Rajamannar. “Unfortunately, not many brands are sensitive, and inclusive of people who are sight impaired. But as marketers, we have a responsibility to go beyond what is obvious and try to connect and include all audiences.

“Pantene leveraged people who are sight impaired and used technological developments to create the product and launch it. Not only did they find a solution, but the level of engagement is commendable.”

The brand also worked with the Royal National Institute for the Blind and partnered with its first-ever blind ambassador, Lucy Edwards. “You’re partnering with subject matter experts who know the reality much better than you do as a marketer or as a brand,” adds Rajamannar. “It worked on so many levels.”

Storytelling over distribution

Effective marketing evokes the right emotions and feelings in its audience and Rajamannar expresses how consumers don't make choices with their heads, they make them with their hearts.

He explains that “hearts resonate with stories, not logic. When you tell the story the right way, it works brilliantly. But we’ve now moved to story-making where consumers are part of the story and help make it.”

In 2022, Copa90 and AB InBev won the Brand Collaboration or Partnership category at The Drum Awards for Marketing for Budweiser and the “Messi’s 644 toast to the goalkeepers” campaign.

“It was incredibly powerful,” says Rajamannar. “Budweiser co-opted a whole bunch of goalkeepers to be part of the storytelling. It wasn’t a story that was there but a story they co-created.

“This was a very compelling communication platform that they leveraged. And more than just a campaign, the earned media, the social, and the viral impact was truly incredible. The insight is very powerful, contextually appropriate, and resonates extremely well with the target audience you’re trying to reach. And they leveraged people who are not even their ambassadors, by sending them a case of Budweiser with their number in terms of these goalkeepers against whom Messi has scored. They did a fantastic job.”

Small but mighty

A movement that awards programs are seeing more relatively small, but perfectly formed campaigns breaking through. Take the Milwaukee Bucks, for example. They won in the design category of The Drum’s marketing awards last year for their small budget, direct mail campaign.

The Bucks had lost their sponsor so, to get a new one quickly, they personalized trainers and sent them out to a brand hit list, which saw Motorola sign on as its jersey sponsor.

Moto Bader

“The ideas don’t need to be huge and expensive to win,” says Rajamannar. “The beauty of this campaign is at multiple levels. They had a very clear target audience, which was finite and small. It was a highly focused and targeted B2B campaign with 20 global CMOs to who they were pitching.

“But it’s not just a B2B campaign, it’s also a humanized campaign. That’s what they brought to life here. The packaging, the whole communication, everything, came through very well. And it’s incredible that they have won some sponsorships, which means the campaign has paid for itself multiple times over.”

The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas is currently open for entry. Make sure you submit your award-winning work before March 23.

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