We Need Optimism in These Troubled Times

How to support each other and dedicate ourselves to inclusion

Photo of Raja Rajamannar with a Mastercard background
How do we reach consumers with messages of hope and resilience at a time like this? Source: Mastercard
Headshot of Raja Rajamannar

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. Consumers expect brands to take a position on issues that matter, to stand by our communities in the face of challenge and to bring true purpose to the bottom line. These are all positive opportunities.

These days, however, optimism is hard to come by. We are enduring a global health crisis that has spun into economic distress. We are battling discrimination and systemic racism. And we are bracing for a potentially devastating hurricane season exacerbated by climate change—all at a moment of deep political division.

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?

As leaders, we build optimism by supporting and inspiring our workforces … We set a powerful, positive example from the top.

We do it by stepping forward—as leaders, as companies and as brands. As always, words matter; they are critical to opening consumers’ eyes and ears. But on their own, they are far from 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.

As leaders, we build optimism by supporting and inspiring our workforces. 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.

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.

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.

As companies, we step up and build creative solutions to the problems we’re faced with. We take initiative and forge new partnerships to make better, faster progress—not just because it’s good for business, but because it’s good for us all.

We step back to reimagine what our products and services can do. Can our data analytics help reach people in need? Can our customer service help serve essential workers? Can our corporate facilities help shelter the displaced? We identify these opportunities and build solutions that work. These actions are an authentic expression of our values.

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 consumers and communities to inspire them. By working hard to make a positive impact, we earn consumers’ trust and do well by doing good.


@RajaRajamannar Raja Rajamannar is the chief marketing and communications officer and president, healthcare at Mastercard.
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