Someone You Should Know: Kobi Gulersen, Director of Digital Marketing at MasterCard Canada
As a Community Manager at 49Pixels, one of the things I do is create content for the 49Pixels blog which means I get to interview and write about amazing people who are doing amazing things in the world of digital marketing and advertising. One of those people is Kobi Gulersen, Director of Digital Marketing at MasterCard Canada who I recently wrote an article about on the 49Pixels blog.
In 2008, Kobi was named one of Marketing Magazines ‘Ones to Watch’, Canada’s top 10 under 30. Back then, Kobi was the Co-Founder and Vice President of Kognitive Marketing, a youth marketing agency that focuses on helping brands reach students on-campus, online, and on-the-go. Fast forward 3 years later, and Kobi is now the Director of Digital Marketing at MasterCard Canada.
It’s quite an accomplishment for someone who only a few years ago, was studying Life Sciences as an undergrad at the University of Toronto. “I was on the med-school train. Or so I thought,” he says. “But while working at Mount Sinai during the SARS epidemic, and doing my research, I realized that I wasn’t cut out for that life path,” he recalls.
It was around this time that Kobi noticed a major gap in brands’ access to university campuses, and recognizing an opportunity, he and a fellow student started Kognitive Marketing in 2006. “We were pushing Facebook when it was still fairly unknown and only accessible to university students,” he recalls. Their idea quickly caught on and attracted major brands including Rogers, L’Oreal Professionnel and Scotiabank International. It wasn’t long before they expanded across Canada and then later the Caribbean (Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica and the Bahamas).
Kobi eventually sold his ownership stake in June 2008. His work at Kognitive had caught the attention of MacLaren MRM, and he received a call from them asking him to join their team. He gladly accepted and during his time at MacLaren, he developed digital strategy for various clients including MasterCard, HP, Nestle US, DeGroote School of Business, Glennfiddich, Gibson’s, Lotto Max & Lotto 6/49. While at MacLaren, a new phase in his career began when an opportunity opened up in June 2011 to join the MasterCard Canada team.
As Director of Digital Marketing, Kobi is responsible for driving MasterCard Canada’s B2C and B2B digital strategy and execution, including mobile and eCommerce marketing, web marketing, social media and SEM/SEO. He also continues to be an advocate for youth marketing and is focused on implementing more youth focused marketing strategies.
One such example is MasterCard Canada’s ‘Social Interview’ campaign launched this past spring. The ‘Social Interview’ was an elaborate online exercise that used social media to find 5 of the best and brightest summer interns. All candidates were asked to submit their cover letters, resumes and creative videos to MasterCard via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Some of the tools that MasterCard used to promote the campaign included, Facebook, Twitter, QR codes, YouTube videos, Flickr and Google search and maps. The campaign was wildly successful. “This was absolutely huge for us,” says Kobi. “It was a completely new approach to recruitment.” The results speak for themselves:
- 15,000+ views of the job posting
- 500+ applications were received with various types of creative including videos, music videos, art pieces, songs, poems, Facebook fan pages, etc
- Within a month, Facebook fans of MasterCard Canada grew by 400%, the largest growth since the launch of the fan page
- During the campaign, 46% of all MasterCard Twitter conversations were about the internship program
MasterCard Canada also raked in a few awards for the campaign, including:
- Applied Arts Interactive Award – Social Media
- Strategy Magazine AToMiC Award – Gold
- Digital Marketing Awards – Silver
- Media Innovation Awards – Bronze
- CMA Gold – Digital
“The ultimate success story is that the Social Interview process will be considered as a part of all future global recruitment efforts given its immense success,” says Kobi.
Another great campaign Kobi’s involved in is MasterCard Canada’s recently launched Priceless Toronto. It offers MasterCard cardholders access to all kinds of offers and experiences, including culinary, sports, music, entertainment, and others. “MasterCard cardholders have the opportunity to experience Toronto like never before,” he says. “For the culinary connoisseur, there are platforms that will give you access to the hottest restaurants. MasterCard makes this experience priceless by having the chef design a custom 5 course meal based on your likings just for you. For the sports fanatic, there are platforms that will score you tickets to a game and MasterCard will have you watching a Boston game or toasting with Bobby Orr. It’s a unique digital platform with a lot of legs.”
It’s undoubtedly been a great year for Kobi and for MasterCard Canada and we can definitely expect to see more from them next year. “It’s a unique time to be at MasterCard,” he says. “We are experiencing a paradigm shift. With the major adoption of PayPass terminalisation and cardholder use, and mobile payments on the close horizon, there is a lot to look forward to.”And do they have any more exciting marketing campaigns that we can look forward to next year? “The future is bright,” says Kobi. “Stay tuned.”