In the late 1990s, Mastercard needed a long-term marketing platform to help reboot the brand, which was on a “burning platform” in the US. But while Mastercard knew it was on to a winner with ‘Priceless’, no one foresaw it still being part of the brand’s DNA 22 years later.

“There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else there’s Mastercard.”

Mastercard’s famous slogan, launched in 1997, immediately caught the public’s imagination. Almost before there was such a thing as viral campaigns and internet memes, people were holding up placards at baseball matches listing the prices of various objects and then ending with the word “priceless” to emulate the company’s marketing campaign.

But while it might seem like just a catchy slogan, Mastercard’s ‘Priceless’ positioning was rooted in brand strategy and a need to find a solution to a clear challenge: Mastercard’s business was in decline.

Back in the mid-1990s, Mastercard had a perception problem. Banks were seeing fewer people take up Mastercard products because the Visa brand had a stronger pull among consumers. What Mastercard needed to do was create demand for the brand from banks by building perceptions among the US public.