David Jones, Kate Robertson, Oscar Morales for One Young World

At the Havas Café, adjacent the famous Carlton Hotel in Cannes, World Wide CEO of Havas Worldwide, David Jones and Euro RSCG’s U.K. Chairman, Kate Robertson took the stage to announce the location city for next year’s One Young World summit in Zurich.

For those unawares, One Young World is an initiative started by David, Kate and Euro RSCG to bring together the young people of the world in hopes of creating and securing a better future for it. Last year’s inaugural event in London had over one thousand young delegates from over one hundred countries. In fact, our agency in Chicago sent two. Featured “older” guests included Bob Geldoff, Desmond Tutu and Kofi Annan.

One Young World is a terrific example of a company proactively embracing social responsibility, which, in case you’ve been living under a rock, is one of the biggest trends in modern business. As David Jones pointed out (paraphrase), “It’s becoming more and more about what company’s are giving back to the world as opposed to taking from it.”

Marketing plays a key part. In fact, many of our clients (and yours too) are now spending time and money working on initiatives that add value to society and then talking about it. Besides being good corporate citizens, this is also a necessary business move. With the advent of social media and Internet connectivity, human beings no longer tolerate companies and brands that are not embracing values of some kind. Furthermore, when companies are seen as doing harm they are hammered for it, and not just by the press but also by everyone with a Facebook and Twitter account. Are you listening, British Petroleum? The message: Do good or else!

It’s easy to be cynical when big business and especially advertising agencies start talking about doing good works. Such entities are not known for altruism but for making money. Needless to say, they’d better walk the talk.

After the Havas Café event I spoke with my colleagues, Bill Mericle (CCO, Palm + Havas) and Blake Ebel (Co-CCO Euro RSCG Chicago) about this slippery slope. Was the spectacle of One Young World created more to look good than to be good?

“What’s wrong with doing both?” was their unanimous reply. They’re right of course. While creating One Young World clearly puts the agency in a broad spot light it is a deserved one. One Young world is an ambitious, complicated and costly affair. Procuring travel documents alone would tax most agencies beyond their patience. We should be proud that our firm is driving such a massive initiative. As Mericle pointed out, at the least, there is potential for “countless connections made on behalf of the greater good.”

The upside is considerably better than that. After all, these are the people who will be leading our world tomorrow. Presumably, after attending the One Young World conference in Zurich they will return to their home countries fired up to do some good. How could they not?

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Scene and be seen: Une soiree Majestik Hotel

So, I was heading to the Palais des Festivals for the awards ceremony honoring radio, media and outdoor Lions, when I noticed a cocktail party taking place on the swank, poolside terrace beside my hotel. Not being a drinker, I could care less about the open bar; it’s the people that make these things work.

And man, did I see people. Kraft Foods was hosting a gathering to honor one of their guests, who was featured at one of the better-attended events at the Palais, none other than the famed auteur, Spike Jonze.

For those unawares, Jonze directed Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and more recently, Where the Wild Things Are. Two of these films are in my top twenty of all time and all three are universally regarded as brilliant. In addition to revolutionizing music videos, he’s also made numerous groundbreaking films for our industry, including one of the best commercials ever created, Ikea Lamp, which garnered every award possible the year it came out, not the least of which a Grand Prix at Cannes. This year he has a 30-minute film in the show about robot love. The piece can be viewed here: Spike Jonze Film \"I\'mheremovie\"

Confession: Hours ago I played courier in a futile attempt to deliver my novel, The Happy Soul Industry and screenplay to his hotel. Yeah, I know, a total mook move. But a guy can dream…

Along with Mr. Jonze, attending the party were Bob Jeffries, Howard Draft, Dana Anderson, Ron Bess, Jonathan Harries, David Jones, Mark Figliulo, Abbey Klaassen, Diane Jackson, Lisa Wells, Tony Weisman, Edie Weiss and leadership personnel from USA Today, Hyper Island, MJZ films and countless other Ad Land movers and shakers. To appropriate a phrase from high school: it was like the C-Suite “on acid.”

Needless to say, I missed the awards ceremony. But that’s the thing with Cannes. Everywhere you turn is an existing/potential boss, partner, competitor, or client and, most importantly, mentor. To meet some of these people, however briefly, is a privilege. And besides, even if Spike Jonze has little interest in my book, I can now say I had a meeting with him!

To view a wide selection of Jonze’s work: Spike\'s ouevre.

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Poster for JPA “Choke”

Wonderful news…

After being blanked at Cannes, Euro RSCG Chicago is proud and delighted to receive a people’s choice award for our campaign on behalf of the Juvenile Protective Association.

While not a Lion, it does represent a “Best Of” winner as judged by the people and attendees at Cannes…and it is in a category of human consequence. In addition, we got to meet and shake hands with the mayor of Cannes. I’ve attached the press release below.

Pic W Mayor
From left: Euro Worldwide CEO, David Jones, the Mayor, moi, Blake Ebel.

CHICAGO, June 29, 2009— Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) and Euro RSCG Chicago were honored for their print ad “Choke” on Friday, June 26, 2009, in Cannes, France by the Mayor of Cannes and ACT Responsible. In conjunction with the International Advertising Festival, ACT Responsible showcases the best cause-related work via a public exhibition in the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France. As part of the exhibition, the public is asked to vote for their favorite piece of work that is on display. This year, Euro RSCG Chicago was awarded a special people’s choice award by the Mayor of Cannes and ACT Responsible.

“Choke” is one of three print ads created for JPA that carry the tagline “verbal abuse is still abuse.” The arresting photography incorporates images of a hand that are made up of shocking, insulting words. The hand is grabbing a little boy’s neck in Choke, a girl’s hair in “Hair Pull” and holding a fist to a girl’s head in “Punch.”

“We’re honored that the public has chosen our work with JPA to be what they consider the best, most effective work on display in the ACT Responsible Exhibition in Cannes,” said Blake Ebel, executive creative director at Euro RSCG Chicago. “Our goal was to communicate that verbal abuse is as damaging as physical abuse to a child and cannot be tolerated. I believe that this campaign does just that.”

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Euro RSCG’s “Tck, Tck, Tck” campaign

And so we’ve come to the end of another Cannes Festival, albeit a smaller, more restrained version. Having come up empty (save for a humanitarian award given to us by the Mayor of Cannes!), I’m leaving a day early. Let the big winners go to the show this evening. I’m saving my agency many hundreds of dollars by checking out. I hope Angelo, our CFO, is reading!

Of course I’m frustrated by not picking up any hardware. Who wouldn’t be? We had several items I thought maybe, just maybe… mais non!

For me, the highpoint of Cannes this year was the Act Responsibly presentation hosted by Euro RSCG, featuring its Worldwide CEO, David Jones and Nobel Prize winner, Kofi Annan. The topic was Climate Justice. Kofi spoke eloquently about time running out for Earth with regard to global warming. On the theme of time, David introduced an integrated campaign entitled “Tck, Tck, Tck,” designed to convince world leaders meeting in Copenhagen this December to pass serious legislation or face “catastrophic consequences.”

But it was the event’s third speaker, Bob Geldoff who stole the show. He riveted the packed theatre by neither pulling punches nor politicizing the issues. “That’s Kofi’s job,” he said. “Not mine.” Indeed, Geldoff was a house-on-fire beseeching the ad world to do far more than a banner ad here or a poster there. He wanted a full-blown commitment and one, he claimed, few of us are willing to make. However, he said, if we didn’t “by 2050 Cannes would be under water.”

I urge you all to visit the website Euro RSCG created, forclimatejustice.org to see what you can do…and to see a pretty cool, open-sourced, integrated campaign.

Final observations…

I was surprised at how many terrier dogs are kept as pets in Cannes, particularly the West Highland breed. As some of you know, most restaurants (even the posh) allow canines in with their masters. On whole, these delightful dogs are better behaved than some ad people.

How apropos: The Mayor of Cannes is a former advertising executive, having worked at DDB.

Celebrity sightings: Belinda Carlysle, Roger Daltry, Spike Lee and, of course, Kofi Annan Bob Geldoff.

Best meal: Tetu. A seafood restaurant several miles outside Cannes, specializing in Bouillabaisse. To die for.

Big winner: Among other Lions, Queensland Tourism won three Grand prizes before the festival even climaxed.

Favorite Faux Pas: Mistaking Michael Conrad (The Berlin School) with uber-famous French advertising icon, Jean Marie Dru.

Favorite Bob Geldoff quip: calling the Havas network “Hamas.”

Saddest moment: hearing from a former hot shot fellow creative director, now struggling, that he’d paid his own way to Cannes…

Happiest moment: listening to U2’s new album while jogging up the French coast. “Magnificent!”

I wish to thank Talent Zoo for providing me this forum and you, Gentle Reader, for providing me an audience. God bless and have a wonderful summer.

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From Talent Zoo, #canneslions

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