Lessons From MasterCard's Kardashian Kard Fiasco

Last Updated Nov 30, 2010 1:48 PM EST

The Kardashian sisters have spiked their horrid debit "kard" after the Connecticut attorney general promised to investigate its "predatory" rates and fees. Now MasterCard (MA) ought to fire the executive responsible for this disaster. The Kardashian deal bore all the symptoms of lazy marketing:
  • The card wasn't actually a MasterCard. Rather, it was released by a company called Mobile Resource, which licensed the MasterCard brand to service the card. So MasterCard had little control of the project from the get-go.
  • The card was targeted at teens but required usurious fees (payable by parents) starting at $99.95 a year to activate and use.
  • It was a rote example of licensing a celebrity name to a random product and hoping that sales would result.
Kim Kardashian said:
I just don't think it really fit with our brand.
That's a lie. The Kardashians approved the deal while complaining that they weren't given enough props for their entrepreneurial chops. And the card itself fit perfectly with the Kardashian brand: The Kardashians inherited their wealth, they didn't earn it. And their lifestyle is devoted to consumption rather than work, spending rather than earning, waste rather than thrift.

MasterCard, on the other hand, has no excuse. It is impossible for the company to take the position that its brand is not in some way about financial responsibility, and yet everything about the card stood for the exact opposite of that.

Bonus points: If you noticed that the Kardashian Kard web site has already been quietly deleted.

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