Mastercard made its first marketing foray into the chess space in September when it unveiled current World Champion Magnus Carlsen (the game’s highest-rated player of all time) as a new global brand ambassador as well as an official partnership with the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour.
The partnership was amplified through a social and PR push based around a Carlsen fronted ‘Priceless Experiences’ promotion which sees the brand aim to connect to ‘chess enthusiast’ cardholders by offering them a chance to win and purchase experiences tied to the Meltwater Champions Chess Tour and to register for a live virtual ‘Chess Insights From World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen’ Experience.
Those who attend the experience will also receive a one-month premium subscription to chess24.com.
Calling all chess fans! There’s a new #MastercardAmbassador joining our team – World Chess Champion @MagnusCarlsen! To celebrate, you’re invited to a #Priceless Experience where you’ll learn from the legend himself. Find out more at https://t.co/p7v8hIbfHS. pic.twitter.com/LjJmHA5KPC
— Mastercard (@Mastercard) September 21, 2021
“I enjoyed The Queen’s Gambit and love how the show has helped fuel chess’s popularity,” commented Carlsen. “Growing the chess community is very important to me, so I’m thrilled that this partnership allows us to do just that. Technology and innovation are bringing chess to new audiences and connecting players around the world,” he said. “Because of this, chess has become a borderless sport, enabling passionate fans to connect from opposite sides of the globe. Now more than ever, chess players at all levels are able to find partners and play at any time and from anywhere.”
This is another example of a brand leveraging chess’ current rising popularity which is partly due to the popularity of last year’s Netflix seven-part original blockbuster ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ which drove an 857% month-on-month rise in Amazon searches for ‘chess set’.
In January 2021 alone, Twitch users watched 18.3m hours of chess as the game became one of the most watched categories on the video game streaming platform.
As well as offering a route for Mastercard to present a more rarefied and intellectual profile, the financial tech platform’s tactic of engaging through chess by adding Carlsen to an endorser stable which already includes sports stars such as Lionel Messi, Crystal Dunn, Naomi Osaka and Dan Carter represents a route to further diversify its sports marketing versus other financial services providers (perhaps it is also linked to the patchy return to traditional live sports events due to the ongoing pandemic).
The company has also added chess-themed strands to its Girls4Tech STEM programme and its recently unveiled ‘Mastercard Marketing Institute’: a 12-week course for senior executives wanting to become ‘Mastercard certified as innovative thinkers’ led by the Chief Marketing & Communications Officer of its healthcare segment Raja Rajamannar