Mastercard in Hungary was the first to receive Carbon.Crane’s “Carbon Monitored Website” badge which shows that the Hungarian Mastercard team is consciously and actively working to reduce the carbon emissions of their website. For this reason, we spoke with Marketing Director Réka Szalkai and Anna Flóra Rácz, Senior Marketing Specialist responsible for sustainability.
Carbon.Crane: What commitments does Mastercard have in terms of carbon neutrality, globally and locally?
Réka Szalkai: If we look at global commitments, the most significant step in recent years was the creation of the Priceless Planet Coalition which was launched by Mastercard with the aim of mobilizing its own customer network in order to plant 100 million trees by 2025. However, this does not mean local tree-planting campaigns, but the designation of reforestation areas determined via scientific research, since it is not only about how many trees we plant, but it is also important that these trees stay green for as long as possible, and thus create the largest possible impact. Together with the Swedish Doconomy, Mastercard has developed a carbon calculator which is built into the mobile banking application and gives feedback to cardholders about the biological footprint of their spending. Through the Mastercard Donate solution they can even neutralize the footprint of their spending by supporting tree planting. But in addition to planting trees, Mastercard is also committed to operating with net zero emissions by 2040. For example, cards made of alternative materials and digital first bank cards are getting more and more attention and with them we’re serving this purpose as well. Furthermore, within the company top management bonuses have also been linked to sustainability goals for some time now, so practically all decision-makers are interested in supporting greener operations.
Anna Rácz: In addition to the global big picture, we also pay attention to these goals in Hungary when it comes to marketing activities as well as the entire operation of the office. A digital green handbook has been created which provides advice and tips that colleagues can easily use in their everyday lives. A separate Green Team has also been operating in the office for two years now, where members, outside of their working hours, work to introduce sustainable thinking in the home life of our colleagues through various commitments and challenges. For example, there were times when you had to travel to work in a sustainable way for two weeks, there was Veganuary, No shopping November, and even a bean planting competition. We are also very proud of the fact that we have planted more than 800 trees so far with our colleagues, and our partners at various banks have also joined us several times.
Carbon.Crane: How have you tried to work on these goals so far when it comes to marketing?
Anna Rácz: We aim to minimize the CO2 emissions of our campaigns and marketing activities and with the help of Carbon.Crane our goal is to make our eDMs and website more sustainable.
In addition to this, for quite some time now we have been recycling building meshes used for marketing purposes, in cooperation with municipalities and institutions. They are reused to make sun sails, covers for playground sandpits, and – suitably – even card cases have been made from them.
We try to involve our partners in the various sustainability activities, regardless of their nature or size. There were times when colleagues at bank joined the tree planting of the Mastercard team in Budapest, but there were also large-scale actions, thanks to which, for example, the Kecskemét Forest Park was born.
Our fall sustainability campaign called “Let’s preserve what is truly Priceless” has just started. During the campaign every mobile payment transaction is also a contribution to Mastercard planting trees on behalf of the cardholder. We’re aiming to plant a total of 30,000 saplings this way.
Carbon.Crane: As marketing professionals, why do you feel it is important for marketing not only to talk about sustainability and environmental protection but also to act on it?
Réka Szalkai: According to the European Commission’s research, 42% of the communication of large companies is exaggerated, false and misleading. Greenwashing is a very bad message, people, especially Gen Z expect a company that stands for sustainability to be green in all areas; not only to provide products and services that are sustainable, but also to be green in its own operations and activities. If we look at this not as a private person but as a marketing professional, it becomes increasingly clear that this is an unavoidable topic where one cannot speak vaguely, since that can be particularly harmful for the given organization, as the consumers and its own employees genuinely expect to work towards these goals.
Carbon.Crane: How did this contribute to you being the first to try the Website and E-Mail Carbon Monitors?
We like to be at the forefront of all innovations, so we also want to be trendsetters in making marketing operations greener. We regularly communicate this to our partners, encouraging them to join us in this commitment as well.
Carbon.Crane: What are your expectations, how can the two monitoring solutions help your work?
The sustainability of digital communication should be targeted as a separate KPI in our campaigns, it will definitely be our goal – as much as possible – to only emit useful carbon. The better we reach our exact target segments, the easier it will be to achieve not only the brand’s but also our sustainability goals.
Carbon.Crane: Were you surprised when you saw the carbon footprint of your website? As an international company there are certainly constraints, but you can surely see some room for fine-tuning, especially since it also improves the user experience.
We have already been trying to communicate as eco-friendly as possible during our campaigns. We thought it would be the perfect solution to move everything into the digital space, but we didn’t even think about the carbon footprint of our online activities. So, it was shocking that the CO2 emissions of our website were so high. Basically, we have a central site adapted to the local market, but we were pleased that Crane brought many possibilities to our attention on how we could improve our current carbon rate. And obviously, as a technology company, we’re actively looking for all possible solutions that result in a higher UX.
Carbon.Crane: In addition to the introduction of Carbon Monitors, what other efforts are you making to neutralize the carbon emission of marketing?
The primary goal of marketing campaigns is to deliver the given message to the target group as efficiently as possible. If we did not do this precisely enough, it would also go against sustainability, as it would be a kind of waste. We’re also trying to focus the targeting of our ATL publications on segments where our messages can have the greatest impact.
We will continue recycling the building meshes mentioned before, and we would also like to extend this to building nets that are not ours.
And of course, we also want to continue the long-term sustainability cooperations with our partners.
Carbon.Crane: Knowing what these tools are capable of, what else could help you achieve your goals in this area?
Examining all ATL channels can be interesting, for example, if there is a difference between the emission of the different TV channels, then it would also be worth to consider which one we should run our campaigns on. Or if we know the emission of the different types of website banners and how it can be reduced, we can also optimize that. But it would be a great help in these matters if there was a possibility for sustainability-focused consulting which can be suitable for even complete marketing plans.