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Advertising’s ‘Big Six’ come together to help UN

The ad industry is coming together to support Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The sustainable development agenda, unanimously adopted by world leaders in September 2015, is the most ambitious anti-poverty, pro-planet agenda ever agreed, with the SDGs anchored at its centre.

Kick-starting the Common Ground programme will be a global advertising campaign, with space donated by key business and thought-leadership publications.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the communication industry is “taking a historic, first-of-its-kind step to beat poverty, injustice and inequality.”

“The six biggest communications businesses in the world have risen to what some may have said was an impossible test: they have agreed to put their differences aside in support of a joint unique and exciting initiative to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs,” he said.

The Secretary-General emphasised that success required a serious, 15-year partnership for humanity. He called the new initiative “both an example and a challenge to all of us to find our own common ground for the common good.”

“We are in the first year of implementing a 15-year plan. Getting it on track at the beginning is critical to achieving our goals at the end. The communications industry is famous for its creativity and energy. The United Nations fully supports channelling this dynamism towards answering the greatest challenges facing our planet and humanity.”

Common Ground was developed among Dentsu, Havas, IPG, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe and WPP.

In a joint statement, Tadashi Ishii, chief executive officer and president of Dentsu; Yannick Bolloré, chairman and chief executive officer of Havas; Michael Roth, chairman and chief executive officer of IPG; John Wren, president and chief executive Officer of Omnicom; Maurice Lévy, chairman and chief executive officer of Publicis Groupe; and Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and chief executive officer of WPP, said:

“The Common Ground initiative recognises that the global issues the UN has identified transcend commercial rivalry. By working in partnership to support the Sustainable Development Goals, we want to demonstrate that even fierce competitors can set aside their differences in order to serve a wider common interest. We hope others in and beyond our own business decide to do the same.”

The new collaboration will start immediately, with two immediate objectives: to come together to help to address the Sustainable Development Goals and to encourage other industries to follow suit and find their own common ground.

In addition, the six companies have agreed to provide a development fund for each of the winning ideas in the Cannes Young Lions competition, which this year was devoted solely to the SDGs. These funds, a first for the Young Lions Contest, will be used to develop the winning concepts and provide them the strongest possible chance of being put into practice.


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