Mastercard’s Cheryl Guerin on working with Amazon Ads to celebrate Black women–owned small businesses

July 13, 2023 | By Jareen Imam, Sr. Content & Editorial Manager

When it comes to marketing, Mastercard’s Cheryl Guerin believes it’s all about connecting on a human level. The executive vice president of global brand strategy and innovation has been creating memorable marketing campaigns for over two decades, and through her experience, she has seen how transformative marketing can be for consumers and businesses.

At the 2023 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Amazon Ads sat down with Guerin to learn more about how Mastercard creates trust and connection with audiences, as well as how the brand collaborated with Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab to develop the “She Runs This” campaign, which highlighted Black women–owned small businesses.

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From your perspective as a marketing leader, can you tell me how the advertising industry has changed in terms of brands leaning into more purpose-driven and social-impact initiatives?

I’ve been in the industry for more than 20 years, and I’ve seen firsthand that consumers buy from brands that align with their personal viewpoints. There has never been a more important time for brands to take a stance, drive action, and work toward positively contributing to society.

I believe in the philosophy of human-to-human marketing, and I believe that helps us at Mastercard better connect with audiences on an authentic level. At the end of the day, we’re all human. We all have passions, wants, and care for others. When we connect with consumers on a human level, it works for any audience.

You’ve been a part of several campaigns that touch on social issues while at Mastercard. Can you tell me about one of them?

Mastercard is a longtime advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community, and it’s also something I’m personally passionate about. For many in the community, the name on their credit, debt, or prepaid card doesn’t reflect their true identity. In 2019, we worked to ease this pain point by creating True Name, an initiative that allows the holder to choose the name that is displayed on their card. We worked with our issuer partners to drive scale, and it’s now in over 40 countries around the world. We believe in everyone’s right to be their true self and proudly commit to play our part to make it happen.

Tell me about the “She Runs This” campaign with Amazon Ads. What inspired Mastercard to collaborate on this campaign?

According to recent Mastercard research, 80% of U.S. women entrepreneurs, solo-preneurs, small-business owners, and content creators report having financial challenges.1 Recognizing the universal obstacles entrepreneurs face and the increased challenge of succeeding in the face of racism and bias, Mastercard created a holistic campaign to support Black women–owned small businesses. As part of this, we collaborated with Amazon Ads, setting the stage for these Black women to share the origin stories of their brands on Amazon Live where they could connect directly with customers through an interactive live chat.

The campaign featured three celebrity-hosted streams on Amazon Live that highlighted stories behind eight Black women–owned small businesses across the U.S. that are participating in Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator (BBA). We collaborated with Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab and Amazon Live to develop this first-of-its-kind Mastercard campaign with Amazon’s BBA. The campaign built on Mastercard’s “She Runs This” program.

Why was it important for Mastercard to work with Amazon Ads on this campaign? What were the highlights of the campaign?

The campaign was very successful. Anytime we get the chance to raise voices of small-business owners, it’s a win for us. Amazon is helpful for consumers looking to shop and discover products and brands, and working with Amazon Ads was a natural fit for this campaign.

Why has it been important for Mastercard to support campaigns that focus on social impact, especially when it comes to diversity and inclusion initiatives?

We are helping close the racial wealth and opportunity gap for Black communities across America. As a part of our journey to build an economy that works for everyone, everywhere, we are investing $500 million in Black communities over the next five years. We believe in doing well by doing good and, as a result, are committing to connect 1 billion people to the digital economy by 2025. This pledge is an extension of those efforts, connecting Black businesses to products, services, technology, and financial support that will help to close the racial wealth and opportunity gap.

What gets you excited about marketing nowadays? What do you want to see more of?

It’s the best time to be a marketer. We can positively impact society like never before, and with emerging tech, we can reach more people. I’m excited to see marketing continue to lead with heart, and connect with people in meaningful and lasting ways.

1 Mastercard internal data, 2022