Apple Pay Stars in MasterCard Promotion with Gwen Stefani (video)

MasterCard is now in the Apple Pay promotion business. The company launched a campaign called "Priceless Surprises" to promote Apple's new service. Gwen Stefani is the pitchwoman, but Apple Pay is arguably the star.

According to the commercial, if you use MasterCard with Apple Pay, you could win a "Priceless Surprise." The company is offering unspecified (but presumable expensive) handbags, "golf experiences," concert tickets (to see Gwen Stefani), and other prizes, with the top prize being the opportunity to meet Gwen Stefani.

Here's the first commercial:

The Priceless Surprises website mentions a trip to see my man-crush Justin Timberlake, festival events, and a variety of other prizes, too.

In MasterCard's press release, Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing officer for MasterCard made an interesting statement:

Gwen Stefani’s personal brand, consumer appeal and sheer energy are what make her an ideal partner to serve as an ambassador for our Priceless Surprises platform. This platform has really taken hold and is inspiring a movement of Priceless Surprises whereby we’re providing unexpected surprises to our cardholders and in turn they are sharing surprises with others in their lives. With Gwen’s help we hope to further this movement.

"This platform" is a reference to Apple Pay, and that's a clue that MasterCard is using Apple Pay—Apple's brand new service—to promote MasterCard, not the other way around.

That's a fascinating turn of events considering that Apple Pay is limited to a small subset of iPhone owners (iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners) through a small subset of retailers. Apple Pay has only been available since late October, and Apple itself has yet to promote it in commercials.

Issuing banks and now credit card companies themselves are promoting Apple Pay, however, and it is quickly becoming a force in the world of payments. In fact, this Priceless Surprises campaign represents a meaningful investment from MasterCard.

It has a dedicated website and Apple Pay is featured prominently as one of four rotating full-page panels—Apple Pay is getting equal billing with Gwen Stefani and Justin Timberlake.

That's not bad for a 6-week old service in a market that competitors have spent years trying to make into a thing.