When the world seemed less complicated, marketing was designed to move consumers and make products desirable. But it has now taken on a larger role. We’ve long been observing, participating in and driving a cultural shift from consumption for pleasure to consumption with purpose, with an optimistic view of bettering our world for the future. Consumers expect brands to take a stance on challenging issues; they choose and remain loyal to those that act with purpose, which presents positive opportunities for us marketers and the brands we represent.

These days, though, optimism is often hard to grapple with. We are enduring multiple crisis – from a health crisis to battling discrimination and economic distress, all in a moment of deep political division. It’s understandable that we’re focusing on the here and now, but it’s just as critical that we continue working to shape a prosperous future. 

I consider myself an optimist, and even for me, it can feel like the deck is stacked against us. For marketers, this poses a tremendous challenge: How do we reach consumers with messages of hope and resilience at a time like this?

We do it by stepping forward — as leaders, as companies and as brands. As always, words matter, but they are not enough. We must back them with meaningful, positive actions. These actions, and the impact they have, are where consumers find hope and faith in better things to come.

Protect our People

As leaders, it’s critical that our workforce can depend on us through whatever we face. This means doing all we can to protect our people and their families so they can do their best work for customers and clients and the most good for the world around us. 

When the pandemic began to rapidly spread throughout the world, we quickly did two very important and impactful things. First, we adapted our communications strategy to address our workforce remotely, regularly and transparently. Second, wereassured our Mastercard employees that there would be no Covid-related layoffs. Not only did our employees appreciate our commitment to them, but the always-on available communications allowed for us to focus on the work – harder, smarter and better. 

Commit to our Communities 

We rededicate ourselves to inclusion, acceptance and a culture that makes everyone feel welcome and valued. Inclusion is not a strategy; it is a core value. When our workforce reflects that value, they champion it in society. 

As an example, we recently used our sponsorships commitment to lessen the financial impact of the pandemic on women’s sports, which struggles more than men’s sports in terms of income and wages. We announced we are the Official Shirt Sponsor for domestic games for the Olympique Lyonnais (OL) women’s team, the most successful club in the history of Division 1 Feminine. Our sponsorship is not only ensuring that the sport continues to thrive, but through our support and platforms we work to continue to bring joy, inspiration and hope to legions of young women and girls.

Use our Assets for Good

We set a powerful, positive example from the top. Our employees are our companies’ strongest ambassadors, and their authentic support positively impacts our brands. When they see us leveraging our resources for good, raising our voices for what’s right and making a true impact, they are moved to do the same.

At Mastercard we’ve been on a journey to build a digital economy that works for everyone everywhere. We have taken another vital step forward in that journey; last week, we announced a $500 million commitment to help close the racial wealth and opportunity gap for Black communities across the U.S. We’re quite literally putting our money where our mouth is, advocating for and actioning progress.

As brands, we find our voices and use them. We can’t gloss over the challenges we face, and we can’t stay silent. We speak with authenticity and with empathy. We show compassion for today’s hardships but stay focused on overcoming them and emerging stronger. We step up in support of the social causes we believe in — not just with words, but through actions and efforts that make a difference. We earn consumers’ trust by sharing the work we’re doing and the difference we’re making. These are powerful messages that can break the cycle of negativity and help restore faith in the positive.

At its core, marketing is an exercise in optimism. When good feelings seem so far out of reach, we owe it to our consumersand communities to inspire them. By working hard to make a positive impact, we earn consumers’ trust and do well by doing good.