Sponsor serves up Priceless advantage at Open

Former world No. 1 Jim Courier, a Mastercard ambassador, taking a wefie with fans at Rod Laver Arena. He also played tennis with cardholders on centre court during the Australian Open.
Former world No. 1 Jim Courier, a Mastercard ambassador, taking a wefie with fans at Rod Laver Arena. He also played tennis with cardholders on centre court during the Australian Open.PHOTO COURTESY OF MASTERCARD

The Australian Open is affectionately known as "The Happy Slam" - and Mastercard wants its consumers to have more fun at this tennis Major than most.

From ambassador and former world No. 1 Martina Hingis surprising fans with drinks to four-time Grand Slam champion Jim Courier hitting with cardholders on centre court, the payments giant has brought plenty of smiles to faces.

Providing fans with privileged event access and money-cannot-buy experiences is part of Mastercard's game plan in its first year as an Australian Open sponsor. It will be the official payment partner until 2019.

The sponsorship is linked to Mastercard's Priceless Cities initiative, a global digital platform that provides its cardholders with unique opportunities to connect with the cities in which they live and to which they travel. Melbourne and Singapore are among 40 Priceless Cities worldwide.

"The reason why Priceless remains iconic (since the campaign launched in 1997) is we understood that there are things in life that matter more than money," said Sam Ahmed, Mastercard's senior vice-president of marketing for Asia Pacific this week. "What Mastercard wants to do is to enable you to get those priceless moments."

More than 500 fans are expected to experience a Priceless moment by the time the Australian Open ends tomorrow, such as a seat upgrade or a behind-the-scenes tour of Rod Laver Arena, the biggest show court at Melbourne Park.

Thousands more are able to benefit from the express lanes for Mastercard cardholders at merchandise as well as food and beverage kiosks, and from using Mastercard's mobile payment app Qkr!.

Qkr! - often pronounced as quicker - allows fans to order food, snacks and drinks from their seats. Their purchases will then be delivered to them, ensuring they do not have to miss a moment's action.

After all, they are there to watch the "Happy Slam".

•Lin Xinyi's trip to the Australian Open was sponsored by Mastercard

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2017, with the headline 'Sponsor serves up Priceless advantage at Open'. Print Edition | Subscribe