Clockwise from top left: John Wren, Sir Martin Sorrell, Michael Roth, Maurice Levy, Yannick Bollore and Tadashi Ishi

Advertising’s ‘Big Six’ find Common

Ground at Lions

IN AN unprecedented step for the global communications industry, the world’s biggest advertising and marketing agencies will today put aside their differences at the Cannes Lions Festival to launch a pioneering initiative in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted at the United Nations last year.

At the instigation of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the chief executives of Dentsu, Havas, IPG, Omnicom, Publicis and WPP will join him on stage after he finishes speaking at the Cannes Debate, which takes place at noon in the Palais des Festivals. United in front of their industry peers, the industry’s six most influential figures will pledge their shared commitment to deploying the power of the creative industries to help address the world’s most pressing problems.


The new initiative, which is called Common Ground, will begin with a global advertising campaign, with space donated by key business and thought-leadership publications. Following the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, each group will focus on amplifying a specific area of the SDGs over the coming year.

Ban Ki-moon urged competing firms from other sectors to follow suit and make their own Common Ground commitments to supporting the SDGs. “Common Ground is breaking ground,” he said, speaking ahead of the Cannes Debate. “This initiative is not only about the advertising industry’s considerable influence in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals around the world. By putting aside their differences, these companies are also setting a powerful example for others to follow.”


In addition to the ad campaign, the ‘Big Six’ advertising and marketing services groups have agreed to provide a development fund for each of the winning ideas in the Cannes Young Lions competition, which this year is devoted solely to the SDGs. These funds will be used to develop the concepts and give them the strongest possible chance of being put into practice. This is the first time the Young Lions have been given a development fund. The Big Six will also encourage other industries to find their own Common Ground.

In a joint statement, Tadashi Ishii, CEO and president of Dentsu; Yannick Bolloré, chairman and CEO of Havas; Michael Roth, chairman and CEO of IPG; John Wren, president and CEO of Omnicom; Maurice Lévy, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe; and Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO 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.”


Jerry Odlin, Sales Director

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June 24 | Special Report