Mastercard helps to end ‘deadnaming’ with True Name feature

Who: Mastercard Canada, with McCann Canada for strategy and creative, Alfredo Films for production (Na directing) Ketchum for PR, and Carat for media.

What: The Canadian launch campaign for True Name, a feature that lets transgender and non-binary users display their chosen name on a credit card. Mastercard first introduced True Name in the U.S. in 2019, and it is now offered by more than one dozen card issuers around the world, with BMO the first in Canada.

When & Where: The national campaign broke last month, running through April across TV/online video, complemented by a robust social/influencer component. It also includes sponsored content about True Name presented by Narcity and The Kit.

Why: For many trans and non-binary people, the name on their credit card serves as a reminder of who they are not. This is Mastercard making its products more inclusive by allowing cardholders to display their chosen name on its cards without requiring a legal name change.

While the Canadian transgender/non-binary population is estimated at about 75,000 people (roughly 0.24% of the total over 15 population), Shawna Miller, vice-president of marketing and communications with Mastercard, said it was important for this to be a “big campaign” for the brand.

Diversity and inclusion has long been a fundamental part of Mastercard’s business, said Miller, from including coverage for gender neutral parental leave, to an active Pride business resource group with 15 chapters around the world, and transitioning at work guidelines for employees, managers and HR. “It’s part of a much bigger impetus within the company overall,” she said.

How: The creative is based on consumer research conducted by Mastercard, which found that 90% of individuals within the transgender/non-binary community have been required to display their pre-transition name or identity (also known as their “deadname”) on a card, and only 25% have had their name changed.

The research found that this can result in feelings of anxiousness (48%), embarrassment (45%) and frustration (42%). In addition, 43% of respondents reported being verbally harassed because they identify as transgender.

Those findings are the basis for the creative approach, which features candid interviews with members of the transgender/non-binary community talking about the fear and anxiety that can come from not having their chosen name presented on a card. “You feel less safe because you’re presenting as one thing, and you have a whole other identity on this little card,” says one.

The spots also capture their emotional reaction to being presented with a Mastercard bearing their chosen name. “I don’t think I have anything with my name on it,” says one interviewee. “Being seen, and being acknowledged as the person that you are… it’s the best feeling in the world,” says another.

An empathetic, understanding director: The video series was directed by Seoul-born and Detroit-based transgender director Na, who recently signed with Alfredo Films for Canadian representation and has previously directed work for clients including Microsoft, General Motors, Ford, Chevy and Bumble.

“In the discussion with McCann, we said we wanted someone who understands the impact [“deadnaming”] will have on the community, so that when those conversations are happening interview-style, they’re happening with authenticity and they’re able to elicit the type of true passion and realness we’re looking for,” said Miller. “I feel like someone who lives within that community is going to have that authenticity, and also the insight to be able to ask the right questions.”

Na (virtually) sat with the three individuals featured in the campaign’s hero spot prior to production, talking about their lived experience as trans people. “You can imagine that by being vulnerable, open and authentic and giving of themselves, it opened up the conversation to be truly real,” said Miller.

And we quote: “For the transgender and non-binary communities in particular, the identity printed on their cards may not reflect who they truly are and can be a source of sensitivity, misrepresenting their true identity. True Name by Mastercard has been designed to change that, enabling people to display their preferred name on their card. At Mastercard, we strive to foster acceptance and we are incredibly proud to have BMO join this effort and bring the feature to Canada for the first time.” — Sasha Krstic, president, Mastercard

Chris Powell