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JR Badian








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MasterCard's JR Badian Shares How to Best Execute Brand Campaigns in Today's Digital Ecosystem

JR Badian, Vice President of Digital Marketing and Social Media at MasterCard Worldwide, is credited with an amazing number of business accomplishments. Not only is he a digital and social media marketer, and an entrepreneur in the global brand digital marketing space, but his first marketing agency went public before he was 30 years old. This spring, he was applauded as one of "40 under 40" brand innovators.

Prior to joining MasterCard one year ago, he worked in marketing roles at Oracle, Loews Corporation and News Corp. He earned an MBA in just 12 months from Babson College during which time he also managed to win a coveted Business Plan Competition that awarded him $3 million in funding for his start-up, BrandAid Communications. (In addition to his MBA, JR has a Master's Degree from Columbia in organizational behavior and an undergraduate degree that reflects a double major in finance and marketing.)

Today JR oversees MasterCard's digital marketing strategy, as well as social media buys and expenditures, SEM/SEO strategies, homepage, microsites, and all display advertising. His role includes social media community management and fan engagement for programs like "Priceless" and "#LoveThisCity." He manages all digital agency relation­ships and serves on MasterCard's Global Marketing leadership team.

So who better to share some of the best ways to execute brand campaigns in our ever-changing digital ecosystem? Last week at the ANA's 2013 Digital & Social Media Conference at Dana Point, California, JR Badian presented his "10 C's of Digital and Social Marketing." He shared these interrelated elements--all of which happen to begin with the 3rd letter of alphabet--as an enthusiastic talk with the audience, rather than as bulleted points in rigid numeric order.

JR started by asking an audience of marketers, "who pays your paycheck?" A resounding majority recognized that it was "the consumer." He emphasized: "Think like a consumer, not like an executive when understanding your brand. Experience your brand as a consumer would and listen to their feedback. Consumer data gives you consumer intelligence." He underscored how MasterCard builds brand affinity by featuring actual consumers in their videos, particularly as they market their platform to "explore one-of-a-kind adventures."

Conversation, then, becomes a key element in creating a "social umbrella." He admitted that it's often difficult to communicate brand values, so encouraging the consumer to be your voice can make a difference. Emerging social technologies, paired with consumer access to programs like #AcceptanceMatters, #LoveThisCity, and #InsideTheGame, has made a big difference to the ways in which MasterCard is now perceived.

Key communities--especially those related to sports, entertainment and the culinary sector for MasterCard--breed avid fans. He reminded the group: "Communicate with your consumers' communities to ignite different passions, so your brand can be part of that emotion."

Content, of course, is tremendously important, and of great current concern to marketers. According to JR, "Content is the media that becomes social."

JR Badian continued his “10 C’s of Digital & Social Marketing” by discussing copy, creative and content and underscoring how “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” He asserts that good creative is still about telling a story, and increasingly one that is tasteful, relevant and brand-centric. “At MasterCard, we know our brand voice and we know our story. Although you can never predict the future, you can anticipate it. Real-time media involves a structure and a process. What may look like real time happens over hours of anticipation.”

Change, he says, is an inevitable part of marketing today and it occurs at lightning speed. “A majority of highly-connected people check their phones 150 times a day, and it’s no longer unusual to shift media spend daily.” It’s about “now, new, next…”

Causes may be a newer addition to the “10 C’s,” and JR sums it up simply: “We should participate in causes. It’s the right thing to do, but it also clearly demonstrates how the brand and the consumer are in it together.” MasterCard’s “Dine and Be Generous” program supports Stand Up to Cancer. When a cardholder uses his or her MasterCard to buy a meal for $10 or more, MasterCard donates to the cause. “We’re increasingly looking at how social media and emerging technology can enable us to get closer to our cardholders and do good.”

Among his final C’s are calculations or what he refers to as Marketing & Mathematics. “From creating metrics to Google analytics to opens and registrations, they all ladder up to KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and ultimately to ROI.”

JR also notes that it is a collection of individuals that make all these programs happen—from the brand team to the agencies to media partners. He cites Nick Law of MasterCard’s agency R/GA: “Social marketing is like a symphony. Sometimes one element works harder than another, but it’s about harmony.”

Some final advice from JR Badian? “You have to push the boundaries. It takes courage to push creativity.”