MasterCard has partnered with Gilt City to expand the reach and variety of deals it makes available through its growing Priceless Cities program. Later this quarter, Gilt City will begin offering new and exclusive deals to MasterCard cardholders in New York, Chicago and more U.S. cities as the program expands.
Cheryl Guerin, SVP of marketing at MasterCard, said the financial services company partnered with Gilt Groupe's local deals business "because of their heritage in experiences and focusing on bringing really unique and special experiences to their customers… This isn't about aggregating what they already have, it's about leveraging and enabling the partnerships they have."
While Gilt City plans to promote these offers through its own channels under a "Priceless" label, they will remain exclusive to MasterCard cardholders. "There's a big focus on the unique, really truly priceless experiences that you can't get anywhere else," said Guerin.
Consumers with MasterCard plastic in their wallet are increasingly less interested in materialistic purchases, suggested Guerin. "There is this sense that I don't need to collect stuff and things," and more interest in intangible experiences.
That's where Gilt City comes in, providing MasterCard with thousands of vendor relationships and a team of curators who will work to make once-in-a-lifetime experiences available for cardholders interested in the Priceless Cities program. The number of deals will vary from week to week, especially as Gilt City ramps up, but the offers it provides will primarily be for travel, culinary experiences and entertainment.
"Gilt City's mission is to enable members to love their city more, so it made perfect sense to align with a company like MasterCard that shares our passion," noted Susan Lyne, chairman at Gilt Groupe.
The emergence of daily deals and locally targeted offers from the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial has helped usher in a new consumer who is increasingly aware and interested in these type of offers, said Guerin. Other credit card companies have made similar endeavors to drive discounted purchases through social media, such as American Express through its ongoing program with Twitter which provides cardholders with discounts at specific retailers once their Amex card is synced to their Twitter account.
Separate from its partnership with Gilt City, MasterCard is unveiling a marketing and media campaign in each city to drive interest in locally relevant deals. In addition to heavy print campaigns, outdoor billboards and radio spots, MasterCard is promoting the deals through partner channels like Gilt City, going direct to consumers through its card issuers and a series of digital ads spanning across search, mobile and social.
In Chicago for example, which launched as the second U.S. city in the Priceless Cities program on Friday, cardholders can choose to have lunch with a current Chicago Cubs player, indulge in a day of pampering at Nieman Marcus or play a game of flag football at Halas Hall and meet Chicago Bears players and coaches.
Gilt City's early offers in Chicago include exclusive dining at restaurants like The Bedford, Province, Arami, and Webster's Wine Bar.
MasterCard is pursuing the same general target groups - foodies, sports fans and thrill seekers - in each media channel, said Guerin. The company plans to target local audiences with those interests on Facebook, but its digital ads will also appear online at Thrillist and Time Out Chicago, among other sites with a local presence. The integrated marketing campaign is nearly underway in Chicago and MasterCard plans to launch more Priceless Cities soon.
UPDATE: This story was updated to correctly identify the dining offers that Gilt City is offering through MasterCard's Priceless Cities program in Chicago. The story originally stated that Spiaggia, The Signature Room at the 95th, Phil Stefani's 437 Rush and Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse were partnering with Gilt City.
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Matt Kapko has been writing about mobile since 2006, before it became cool. Based in Long Beach, CA, he has covered mobile entertainment, digital media, marketing, and advertising for several business media outlets. A former editor and reporter for RCR Wireless News, paidContent, and iMedia Connection, Matt is a regular freelance reporter for ClickZ. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattKapko or drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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