MasterCard International has moved responsibility for cobranding, which has been responsible for much of the brand's growth in recent years, into the credit products group.

Originally part of member relations, cobranding will be situated alongside commercial, standard, gold, purchasing, and business card products, in a move to coordinate marketing, management, and promotions.

Kristine K. Crow, 35, was promoted from senior vice president of member relations in the Midwest to senior vice president of affinity and cobranded marketing. She replaces Stephen Bartell, who switches to vice president, U.S. region strategic sales planning.

"My role is to take a solid foundation of success in cobranding and [bring] it to the next level, by trying to strengthen our organization to better serve our member needs," said Ms. Crow. She reports to Daniel T. Murray, senior vice president of the credit products group.

MasterCard reported that from January to June 1994, 38% of all MasterCards were cobranded, generating 43% of the dollar volume for that period.

"What this looks like is further changes taking place to better position MasterCard within the industry and become more competitive," said James L. Accomando, president of Accomando Consulting Inc., Fairfield, Conn.

"Now that Visa has aggressively come after the [cobranding] market and increased the financial stakes, and American Express is jumping into the game, MasterCard really needs to keep the ball rolling," he added.

"If you look at Visa, they've achieved a lot by throwing money at members" to encourage cobranding, said MasterCard's U.S. region president, Peter S.P. Dimsey. "We don't believe in incentives, [but] we match [them] to level the playing field so the merits of the program are the ones used to decide" which association the member chooses for their cobranded card.

Visa U.S.A.'s executive vice president of member relations, Francine Schall, said MasterCard had been funding projects before Visa showed up on the scene.

"It was fairly easy to be the victor in a field of one, but what appears to have happened in the past year is that the [cobranding] partners have been choosing Visa." She made particular reference to retail stores, where Visa has signed up Nordstrom, Federated Department Stores, and Caldor.

Still, MasterCard said 57 cobranded. programs have been launched under its brand this year.

Regarding the management shuffle, Mr. Dimsey said, "We're putting in charge a senior manager involved with some of the biggest programs to provide leadership to [our] members."

Ms. Crow has been at MasterCard since i986 and has worked on several of the association's more celebrated cobranded accounts, including General Motors Corp. and Exxon Corp. Before joining MasterCard, she was second vice president of marketing and development at Norwest Corp.

Mr. Bartell, who spearheaded the cobranding drive for the past seven years will expand his promotional focus to include credit, debit, remote banking, and acceptance products.

For the past year, MasterCard said it has been extending the knowledge of cobranding to other regions and employees in the member relations area. "As a result of that being in place, it was determined I should step up and take a broader perspective of all of the products and services we provide," said Mr. Bartell. Mr. Dimsey said Mr. Bartell is "capping a very successful career in cobranding."

MasterCard also promoted Sheila Scarry to senior vice president, member relations, for the East; and Cindy Payant will replace Ms. Crow as senior vice president, member relations in the Midwest.

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