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Marketing can change the world if, as an industry, our people and businesses come together and “pile some energy into working collaboratively because societies, communities and countries benefit when we do,” according to Facebook’s chief revenue officer, David Fischer.

That’s precisely what The Drum and Facebook set out to do with the ‘Marketing can change the world’ initiative, assembling three teams from brands and agencies across the globe to find creative solutions and big ideas to address business and societal challenges affecting small-to-medium size enterprises (SMEs) in the US, UK, and APAC.

The teams, each championing different minority-owned enterprises, are tackling a range of issues: Team APAC bringing people together by building a cross-generational community for silver entrepreneurs; Team UK tackling an important issue around bias and the risk of oversimplification in stereotypes; and Team US tapping into moments of ‘self-doubt’ in women.

“It speaks to just how much innovation, creativity and skill there is in the industry,” said Fischer.

Facebook has now pledged to support each team in ad credits to be able to execute their campaign and “bring these powerful ideas to life”.

Small enterprises are at the heart of communities

“Wherever we are around the world, small businesses are at the heart of our communities and for Facebook, our mission is to build community,” said Fischer. “In the bigger picture, small businesses typically employ 60-70% of workers in most countries so when talking about reduction in poverty, income equality and growth of economies, small businesses are huge.”

The ‘Marketing can change the world’ project with The Drum is just one part of Facebook’s wider efforts to support SMEs across the world. Its ‘Global State of Small Business Report’, which surveys over 25,000 small business leaders each month in over 50 countries, highlights not only the real struggles for these businesses in these trying times, but a more optimistic picture for the future. While many have suffered, others have taken the opportunity to innovate.

“One of the things we set out to do at the outset of the crisis was to be a source of information, build resources and help bring more insight to what’s going on. There’s a lot of great stories coming out of this but it’s all under an umbrella – this is a tough time. It’s looking at things we can do on the product side, the information side, and in some cases creating special programs to support small businesses. I think that’s what any of us who can do hopefully will continue to step up and support entrepreneurs who are a part of what makes our communities tick.”

Global pandemic = a time machine for digital disruption

“As an industry, we’ve talked for a long time about disruption and now we’ve had this massive disruptive force that came in this pandemic,” says Fischer. “The good news is that businesses are finding they can disrupt themselves. In some ways, this crisis has served as a time machine; just look at the pace of digital adoption. Five years (give or take) of acceleration have happened in a matter of months. There are a lot of things that businesses hadn’t thought possible and now there’s no going back.”

A last word of advice to the teams and the industry as a whole, Fischer said: “We all have things to offer, we all have expertise, and frankly we probably all need help too and this is a perfect time. We’ve seen many examples of businesses and people coming together in ways that we would never have thought possible. We are so powerful when we come together so it’s about stepping back and seeing those opportunities. I really think we are at our best as people, as companies, as an industry, when we’re doing that in addition to our day jobs, just as these three teams have done. I hope that all of us can make sure we’re piling some of our energy into that kind of work because societies, our communities, our countries benefit when we do.”

Check out the inspiring and educational four-episode documentary series ‘Marketing can change the world’ following the journey of the three teams as they collaborate and compete to change the world.