TicketManager | The Best of Both Schools: MasterCard’s Latest Activation Blends Old and New

Marking it’s 30th anniversary as a top-level partner of soccer’s UEFA Champions League, Mastercard unveiled a promotion just before the start of this year’s Round of 16 matches last week that manages to be both future-facing and traditional.

The financial services giant is attempting to lure those who have yet to venture into the metaverse with some decidedly old-fashioned bait: a trivia game offering live event tickets. At a time when brands, rights holders and others in sports marketing are struggling to identify the optimal role for brand partnerships in a Web3 world, Mastercard’s what’s-old-is-new-again approach just might be a code cracker.

To enter the trivia competition—which is open to cardholders in the U.S., U.K., Mexico, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia—participants must register at Priceless.com and claim a co-branded Mastercard UCL NFT to unlock the quiz and its prizes. The game also features a “Share the Love of Football” digital token that offers in-game rewards to players for referring friends, family and followers to join them in the competition.

Each quiz kicks off 30 minutes before the start of each round of Tuesday fixtures, with the winners earning match tickets to the next round until the top scorer after the semi-final on April 30 wins the grand prize of tickets to the final at Wembley Stadium in London on June 1.

For the uninitiated, Mastercard has eliminated any psychological or technical barriers to entry by merely requiring cardholders to log in with an email address. From there, the company creates a Web3 wallet for each user and drops in a pre-minted NFT. If the trivia competition generates big-time participation, expect other brands to find ways to simplify metaverse access for their target audiences.

As it turns out, the UCL activation is part of a new Mastercard initiative called Pass to Priceless, which the company says, “brings Mastercard’s Web3 assets into a unified space. As cardholders collect digital passes, in the form of NFTs, they will be granted access to experiences that span Mastercard’s expansive sponsorship portfolio. The platform merges the power of physical and digital to bring cardholders closer to their passions like sports, entertainment, music and gastronomy.”

Consumer insights expert Christian Brent, founder of Damask Consulting in the U.K., dubbed Pass to Priceless a “nice Web2.5 play” in a LinkedIn post last week. As Brent points out, beyond encouraging consumer engagement with the company’s largest sponsorship assets, the adoption by cardholders of the digital passes potentially provides Mastercard a treasure trove of insights beyond the already robust consumption data it owns as a payment system.

“But better still,” Brent continues, “The interoperability of on-chain tokens means that they have limitless potential future use-cases (and hence commercial value) beyond the end of the initial campaign. Once Mastercard has amassed enough users and engagement, they become a medium of communication themselves; a channel to communicate directly to consumers.”

Quite the ultimate payoff for a humble soccer trivia quiz like those played every day in pubs and bars around the world.