Earlier this year, The Drum and Facebook posed an important question to our industry: Does marketing have the power to change the world? Over the months that followed, three teams of rising marketing talent from across the globe, paired with seasoned marketers from global brands as mentors, set out on a journey to address this very question, challenging themselves to conceptualize, create and execute a campaign that would address the business and societal issues faced by minority-owned small business owners in North America, EMEA and APAC.
“The global pandemic has laid bare the need for small businesses and entrepreneurs to be supported; they are the lifeblood of communities, and increasingly propped up by minority groups, so supporting them through this turbulent time has become urgent, not just for people’s livelihoods but in order to maintain vibrant and diverse communities,” said Tom Spaven, brand director, Bombay Sapphire, North America (Team US mentor).
Team US took on the challenge to inspire and reignite the spark amongst a generation of female entrepreneurs, whose biggest hurdle is being unable to recognize their own success; Team Singapore focused on creating a flourishing space for collaboration, partnership and learning where over-65s can collaborate with like-minded younger Singaporeans to help expand their business needs; and Team UK sought to break a core barrier that immigrant-led businesses face, by connecting them with peers and industry professionals to deliver partnership campaigns and tools to accelerate business growth.
Recap on the teams’ journey so far here:
Episode 1: Brainstorming the insights
Episode 2: Finding the big ideas
Episode 3: Presenting the big ideas
Bringing the campaigns to life
Following episode three, where the teams had the chance to present their big ideas to Facebook chief revenue officer David Fischer, all three regional teams were given the opportunity to bring their campaigns to life with support from Facebook. Two to four SMBs were identified per region as launch partners for each of the campaigns.
Team Singapore has executed their campaign, having partnered with Mui Siong Minced Meat Noodles 梅松肉脞面 and 1degreec Cold Brew Coffee to bring to life their idea to create, ‘Singapore Towkey (Boss) Collab’ - a self-sustaining Facebook group where senior entrepreneurs can share their stories and introduce their business to public members of the group and request collaborations with those who can help.
“Building brand communities really allows us to take marketing from being just a communication tool to really inspiring action,” said Erica Kerner, SVP, marketing strategy & partnerships, ONE Championship (Team Singapore mentor). “I’m so excited by what our team did in this initiative because it did just that; it created a community and really engaged both young people and the older generation to come together and build something meaningful.”
“A good dose of creativity, great storytelling and placing these stories in the right environment can really help to drive collaboration and build a community,” said Triveni Rajagopal, global digital director, skin cleansing and BPC, Unilever, who was part of Team Singapore. “The combination of beautiful personal storytelling with the audacity of silver entrepreneurs to ask for help were key ingredients of the idea that we brought to life and what will build this community.”
‘Not just’ a Social Purpose Award
As part of this global initiative, all three campaigns were entered into a special category at The Drum Social Purpose Awards, where Team UK was crowned the winner for its ‘NOTJUST’ campaign idea, which symbolized the idea of breaking free from stigma and tapped into human connections to unlock access to people and resources critical for future business growth.
“The rising stars have absolutely blown us away with their creativity, passion and discipline, really wanting to leave their mark on the industry,” said Sylvia Zhou, global industry relations and intelligence lead at Facebook, announcing the winner at The Drum Social Purpose Awards.
Aside from building communities for the minority-owned business groups the teams set out to help, the participants also built their own communities within the teams themselves, highlighting the value of communications platforms and new relationships they formed - both with their peers and the entrepreneurs they helped - as stand-out moments from the overall experience.
“It has been such a joy to witness the progress of those three teams coming together, from unpacking the brief to forming ties with local businesses in their local communities," added Zhou. "We hope these projects don’t just stop here but will inspire people from across the industry to further support those campaigns and show how marketing can save businesses in need; how marketing can change the world.”
“Most brands don’t realise how much power they have and how much their voice can change things,” said Jade Nodinot, former creative associate, BlackBook London, who was part of Team UK. “If brands start being more vocal about certain issues, I think things will move much faster and make the world a better place.”
‘Act not Ads’
Against the backdrop of a global pandemic in 2020, the ‘Marketing can change the world’ initiative has shone a light on the positive contribution that marketing makes and its power to change the world for the better; through its ability to challenge and shape perspectives, inform culture, kickstart movement and effect real change.
“Brands are increasingly under scrutiny for not just what they say but what they do and how they do it. It’s these tangible actions that, if executed appropriately by a brand with their target audiences, can turn armies of followers into fanatics and build a true community,” concluded Spaven. “Once a brand or company has engaged people on a human level and fostered those 1:1 connections, real impact can be created as a brand community with shared values.”
“Act not Ads is a very powerful mantra,” he said.