Young Lions calibre bodes well for future

Watching presentations from the Young Lions Marketers Competition, it was hard not to be moved.

Ruth Wyatt: 'The young marketers were brilliantly trained, highly skilled and insightful. They knew their businesses inside out.''
Ruth Wyatt: 'The young marketers were brilliantly trained, highly skilled and insightful. They knew their businesses inside out.''

I'm not sure how common it is for entrants to bring tears to the eyes of the judging panel, but this year's crop of young guns, who represent the cream of marketing talent under 30 from around the world, made several jury members cry.

The brief was admittedly an emotive one: to create a product or service to raise money for the girls' education programme of the charity Room To Read.

Of the 793 million illiterate people worldwide, two-thirds are female. The aim of the girls' education programme is to help girls stay in school to complete their secondary education.

Education has been proven to be a game changer for society time and again; its impact on poverty is marked and measurable, as is its impact on the health and wellbeing of individual girls, their families and their broader communities.

The Young Lions are tasked with devising this product or service and writing a two-page brief to be presented to a comms agency - the jury made up of creatives and strategists. They then give a short presentation and get a grilling by the judges.

It wasn't just the passion, empathy, emotion, belief and drive that these young marketers brought to the trial that was impressive. Whether from small domestic banks or global FMCG powerhouses, they were brilliantly trained, highly skilled and insightful individuals. They knew their businesses inside out and they understood the value of PR.

The competition has been sponsored since its inception in 2010 by Ketchum, which provides the subject matter. The agency has a longstanding relationship with Room To Read - its president and CEO Rob Flaherty is on the charity's board and the agency has so far funded putting 90 girls through four years of secondary school through its own internal efforts.

The competition is a smart way of achieving a number of things - from generating fresh ideas for fundraising and introducing potential commercial partners to Room To Read, to taking the temperature of integrated marketing thinking among the next generation of client stars. And, of course, it helps position Ketchum as a serious player in the marketing mix.

The upshot of this year's competition was all good. Traditional above-the-line advertising came up as a main campaign driver in only two of the presentations and the rest truly understood the value of earned media.

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