Mastercard and McCann win IDEA Competition with ‘Fill the Business Gap’

Mastercard Canada and McCann Canada’s data-driven “Fill the Business Gap” campaign has won the third-annual Inclusivity, Diversity, and Equity in Advertising (IDEA) competition. The prize includes $1 million in media inventory across Bell Media properties.

Created by the ICA and Bell in 2021, the IDEA Competition celebrates work that clearly demonstrates a message of diversity and inclusion with an aim to bring about meaningful change in the industry and encourage greater representation of diverse communities in Canadian advertising campaigns. The theme for this year’s competition was “Newcomers to Canada.”

“Fill the Business Gap” is designed to help newcomers start a business in the right location to optimize their chance of success. It was based on studies conducted by Mastercard and McCann Canada which found that while one-third of Canadian new businesses are started by newcomers, 20% fail within five years of launch.

The campaign used anonymized and aggregated transaction data, as well as proprietary analytics from Mastercard, in order to identify potential locations for new businesses. The data is able to determine the nature of businesses already operating in the area, and the potential need for new businesses.

Once a potential location is determined, Mastercard will create an online hub and run area-specific digital out-of-home ads in different languages, determined by demographic data. (McCann and Mastercard Poland won a Grand Prix in Cannes earlier this year for “Where to Settle,” a program that combined transaction data with other government information to help refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine find the best place to settle in Poland.)

“This campaign idea utilizes the best that marketing has to offer, bringing data and creativity together,” said ICA president and CEO, Scott Knox. “What took it to the top is that it offers a meaningful tool aimed at the success of newcomers to our country. One that exists for today, and could for many years.”

Mastercard and McCann were selected from among 10 finalists in this year’s competition, chosen as the winner by a 10-person jury representing clients, agencies and industry associations.

“‘Fill the Business Gap’ ticked all the boxes that embody the spirit of the IDEA Competition,” said Perry MacDonald, VP of advertising sales and partnerships with Bell Media. “The winning campaign is not just about advertising—it’s about creating opportunities in and for underrepresented areas.”

Previous themes for the IDEA Competition have included the lived realities of Canada’s LGBTQ+ communities, which was won by Humanity and Big Brothers Big Sisters for “Bigger Together — A Celebration of Self-Expression”; and the lived realities of Indigenous communities, won by Sid Lee’s “Right the Story,” on behalf of Indigenous-owned beauty brand Cheekbone Beauty.

Chris Powell