Mastercard - A Journey to reach Net Zero by 2040

Mastercard - A Journey to reach Net Zero by 2040

6 minute read

In a world where sustainability is no longer a choice but a necessity, Mastercard embarked on an ambitious journey to reach Net Zero by 2040.

Article details

  • Author:WFA


12 April 2024

Click on the slides to move through the summary presentation.

Click here to download the Case Study in PDF.


Dedicated to a sustainable future, Mastercard started an investigative journey, seeking to balance corporate success with environmental stewardship and climate action. They embarked on an ambitious journey to reach Net Zero by 2040. This case study focuses on Marketing activities, which impacts their scope 3 carbon emissions.

To that end, Mastercard engaged Maidstone Solutions, a consultancy specializing in safety, sustainability, and diversity, to evaluate emissions from its global production processes and established protocols for a more sustainable production model. For Media, Mastercard engaged their agency, Carat and its parent company, Dentsu- in providing toolsets and expertise in this space.

Mastercard’s ambition was to measure and analyze its own media and production’s worldwide carbon footprint to first establish a baseline, then design a process that they could embed into their go to market approach for scope 3 emissions reduction year over year.

The journey of measurement helped develop global best practices but also provided reduction levers tailored to the unique context of each country and specific campaign or live-action shoot. Carbon emissions reduction was key, but focus was also on gaining understanding on the balance between tactics to reduce Media/Production CO2 emissions and impact on their brand.

The main objectives of this initiative were:

1. Establish a baseline for Media & Production CO2 scope 3 emissions globally by evaluating live action production shoots and media campaigns around the world.

2. Create sustainable best practices through playbooks & toolkits and train key Mastercard marketing stakeholders, as well as supporting agencies.

3. Complete benchmarks to utilize the learnings to improve measurement accuracy, data management, and implement emission reduction strategies.


Mastercard began with analyzing the industry’s leading tools, consultants, and practices to create a strategy around measurement and reduction.

Carat and its parent company Dentsu, developed a global, cross channel, media carbon calculator that measures the carbon footprint and highlights emissions hotspots throughout the lifecycle of a campaign.

Operationally, Mastercard, Carat and Dentsu, engaged local teams in their core global markets, with a dual purpose of upskilling them regarding media carbon footprint and gathering comprehensive historical spend. This included detailed insights into campaigns, contextual information on any outliers, and valuable inputs on local sustainability efforts. Additionally, teams were encouraged to explore the use of existing optimization techniques like adaptive streaming technology, which could potentially reduce emissions during the project's execution.

Mastercard used the industry leading AdGreen calculator to evaluate historical productions in partnership with Maidstone Solutions. They also involved a local 3rd party eco-consultant for larger budget production shoots who ensured that high standards were followed on set. Afterwards the consultant provided a thorough waste diversion report.

Mastercard had to transform their marketing operations as well. Maidstone solutions were embedded in the business-as-usual bidding process to ensure all projects over $100K would be measured and accounted for.  They then partnered with Maidstone and leveraged their existing platform to track their production carbon footprint, per project. Waste diversion was also measured on production projects with an eco-consultant on set.

Mastercard and both partners then orchestrated collaborative efforts among global cross-functional teams to define strategic direction and develop comprehensive playbooks to share with regional teams for buy in and assistance with historical data.

Realizing that to affect change they needed to build industry coalitions, Mastercard took leadership positions within key industry trade groups and has helped author the industry’s first Sustainable Media Action Guide and establish benchmarks and best practices that companies can choose to leverage as they continue their own sustainability journeys.  This complements the transformation work they are doing in-house. Mastercard looks forward to sharing this journey with those on the same mission!


Mastercard leveraged emissions data measurement tools, industry leading carbon calculators, and employed change management techniques begin to transform our marketing operations:


Impact was measured through:

  • the usage of the Ad Green Production calculator.
  • The media carbon calculator from Carat and Dentsu.

Both provided thorough data based on global standards for carbon accounting. The analysis and results allowed for deep insights regarding the carbon footprint of campaigns/production shoots and highlighted hotspots for emissions reduction levers and provided process optimization solutions.

Marketing Operations

To be most impactful as a team, Mastercard established a dynamic and coordinated effort across their marketing key stakeholders, and external global teams strategically stationed in New York and London. The team was comprised of sustainability experts, data analysts, account management and strategists to guide the initiative. 

For Production, Mastercard diverted substantial waste from these projects by following sustainable practices on production shoots. They leveraged the support of eco-consultants to divert waste from landfills through donation, composting, and recycling. 

For Media, Mastercard ran test & learn pilots with partners who could provide carbon reduction on media campaigns:

Seenthis: provides adaptive streaming technology to run video on display placements (2 successful pilots in Germany and Canada where CO2 reduction was measured).

Scope3: maps and measures the end-to-end emissions of a programmatic ad and provides solutions to drive a less carbon intensive outcome (pilotted in Poland and CO2 reduction was measured).

By fostering this collaborative approach, with a centralized Global Team providing oversight and direction while leveraging local insights and resources, Mastercard was able to establish a solid foundation for their sustainability analysis, aiming to make informed decisions to reduce their carbon footprint and set a plan for reduction.



  1. Media: Social video and online video campaigns tend to have a higher carbon footprint due to file sizing and transmission of data. Additionally, delivering ads on mobile devices vs laptops creates more carbon emissions. Thus, optimizing the file size for creative assets and leveraging adaptive streaming technology is a promising tactic for reducing the carbon footprint.
  2. Production: the promising opportunity for reduction is limiting travel and involving an Eco Consultant into live action shoots.
  3. Industry: It’s imperative to work with trade groups and other companies who have similar Net Zero ambitions to develop industry wide benchmarks and best practices because it will encourage publishers and tech companies to make systemic changes that will reduce marketing’s carbon footprint.


This was Mastercard's first effort to globally mobilize their teams to reduce carbon emissions in media & production. They had to rewire the way they think about carbon in marketing and upskill and equip their teams with the knowledge necessary to meet their ambitious NetZero goals. This has led to exploring new partnerships and technology that can help drive innovation and operationalize carbon efficiency techniques into campaigns/shoots and media planning and buying. If they were to do this again, they would focus even more on local market/agency engagement, find ways to automate what is a very manual and time-consuming process, spend more time going to each market to upskill teams, and develop even more partnerships with the wider media ecosystem.

Article details

  • Author:WFA


12 April 2024