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Raja Rajamannar on Fake Influencers, Brand Purpose and That World Cup Ad

Raja Rajamannar, Mastercard CMO and WORLDZ Master, spoke with Adweek during the 2018 Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity. The interview touched on influencer fraud, the importance of ‘brand purpose’, and several key takeaways following Mastercard’s misunderstood World Cup campaign.

Mastercard CMO Raja Rajamannar at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. Photo by Kristina Monllos.

Responding to Unilever CMO Keith Weed’s comments about fake influencers, Rajamannar explained that when, “…priority shifts behind influencers, money moves behind that, and where there’s money the fraudsters try to gravitate.” Mastercard is trying to mitigate this kind of fraud, but he acknowledged the difficulty of eliminating it completely.

When asked if he believes ‘brand purpose’ is merely a fad, Rajamannar insisted that it’s actually a “business necessity”. He explained that millennials want to support brands that “…stand for something.” Beyond just appealing to consumers, ‘brand purpose’ helps attract new talent: “[Millennials] don’t want to join a company that doesn’t have a purpose they believe in.”

While reflecting on their misunderstood “goals-for-meals” World Cup campaign, Rajamannar emphasized the importance of analyzing individual elements of a campaign to prevent the possibility of misinterpretation. If something should happen, “…be nimble, agile, and course-correct.”

Mastercard is still on track to reach their goal of donating 100 million meals by the end of 2018.