Sorrell and Levy on talent, social good, and the Young Lions Health Award

UNICEF and Unilever teamed up with Cannes Lions to discover the next generation of young creative talent and empower them to focus their skills on strengthening health systems in the developing world.

Young Lions Health Award winner Cece Chu.
Young Lions Health Award winner Cece Chu.

Ryan Price and Cece Chu from UK ad agency Mr. President won the Young Lions Health Award at Cannes Health Lions on Friday.

The new award is supported by UNICEF and Unilever and aims to discover the next generation of young talent in creative communications.

Young professionals from around the world were asked to respond with a creative integrated campaign that unites UNICEF and Unilever to strengthen health systems in the developing world.

Chu and Price’s winning idea, ‘The Essentials’, is a campaign idea aimed at reinforcing Unilever’s support for UNICEF by transforming supermarket purchases into powerful and engaging ways to donate.

Empty cans would be stocked on supermarket shelves and when they are purchased children in developing countries receive a week’s worth of food or other essential supplies, such as hand wash, water or bandages.

UNICEF will use the winning campaign idea as the basis for engaging the general public to advocate and mobilise support for better, child-focused health systems.

"When we saw the brief, we jumped at the chance to do more than just raise awareness, and create a campaign that people around the world will actually engage with," said Chu.

Prior to joining Mr. President last year, Price and Chu worked at Whybin/TBWA in New Zealand.

A jury of nine industry leaders, including Unilever CMO Keith Weed, UNICEF chief of health Dr. Mickey Chopra, and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and James Bond actor, Roger Moore, arrived at a shortlist of 18 entrants from 14 countries.

On Saturday, PRWeek editor-in-chief Steve Barrett moderated a panel during the Health Lions program with UNICEF’s chief of public advocacy Claudia Gonzalez Romo and Unilever’s Dr. Analia Mendez, global director of WASH household care at Unilever on the topic ‘How Can Creativity Generate Positive Change To Save Children’s Lives?’

WPP CEO Martin Sorrell and Publicis CEO Maurice Lévy spoke to PRWeek about the importance of cultivating young talent, the role CSR plays in this process, and the Young Lions Health Award:

Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of WPP

How do you create a working environment that is attractive to the new generation of talented young people?

The battle for talent is becoming harder and harder. New generations increasingly want to work for more tech-focused, networked, flexible, non-hierarchical organisations. That said; if you look around an event like Cannes you can see there’s no shortage of young people determined to make their mark in advertising and marketing services.

The key for us is to make sure our businesses are changing fast enough and that as a group we’re focusing sufficiently on areas like content, technology and data – as well as the more traditional disciplines. The continuing popularity of our graduate schemes – not least the WPP Fellowship – gives me confidence we are getting something right.

Development opportunities once people have joined are also critically important. WPP’s "X-Factor" program for female rising stars and the week-long "Maestro" course for senior client leaders are just two examples.

How important to doing business is it to do good in that process?

Virtually every business leader today understands that social responsibility goes hand in hand with sustained growth and profitability. If you want to be in business for the long term, you need permission from society to operate, and younger generations take it as a given that the company they work for will function according to that principle.

At WPP we’ve been producing an award-winning sustainability report for many years (and now a report on our agencies’ pro bono work too). And clients who engaged with us on sustainability were worth at least £1.35 billion to the group in 2014 – equivalent to 12% of our revenues.

How important is the Young Lions Health Award for stimulating creativity?

The joint initiative between Cannes Lions, UNICEF, and Unilever is a fantastic way both to reward young creative talent and to help improve health systems in the developing world, and I’m delighted so many of our agencies and people have been involved.

Maurice Lévy, CEO, Publicis Groupe

How do you create a working environment that is attractive to the new generation of talented young people?

Our business is based on intelligence, imagination and passion, and that comes from our people – our greatest asset. Creating a working environment that fosters and promotes these qualities is therefore central to our business, and key to our ability to attract and retain top-level talent.

In this highly flexible, globalised knowledge economy, young, talented professionals have unprecedented freedom to choose where they want to work and what they want to work on. Coupled with this is a growing sense of responsibility and ownership around the many complex challenges the world is facing, and recognition that all sectors of society, and certainly the business community, have a duty to engage to create positive change in the world.

It is therefore imperative to ensure corporate social responsibility is positioned at the heart of our business, and we create a working environment where people are encouraged and supported to work on the causes that matter to them.

In 2014, Publicis Groupe supported 320 pro bono campaigns as well as over 230 volunteer initiatives. This is an area of our business I am confident will continue to grow and generate positive impact around the world.

How important to doing business is it to do good in that process? 

Doing good isn’t just good for the world, it is without question also good for business. Corporate social responsibility isn’t a fad, it’s a recognition that businesses operate within societies, and that the problems of society are also our problems.

Publicis Groupe has operations in 108 different countries and over 75,000 employees, so we are working in a huge range of geographies and there are a lot of ways in which we can drive positive change.

In terms of our core business, we know corporate social responsibility is becoming more and more important to our clients, and this drives us to do better and constantly improve. Recent statistics also show that 20% of US investors take CSR into consideration when making an investment decision. That is not a lot, but this figure has grown substantially in recent years, and this trend looks set to continue.

How important is the Young Lions Health Award for stimulating creativity?

The Lions Health competition is a great way to engage and inspire young, talented creatives to engage around this important topic and we’re really excited to be involved.

UNICEF’s partnership with Unilever and Cannes Lions is also a fantastic example of partnership between the private sector and international organizations and is something we need to see more of. Publicis is very excited to have three teams in the competition and we were very impressed with the standard of the entries.

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