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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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.

Steff on Twitter

From Talent Zoo, #canneslions

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