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Ban Ki-moon and the “Big Six” take “Common Ground” in support of the UN-SDG

by Irma Mutuc

CANNES – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed the Lions Live audience as part of The Cannes Debate. He started quite lightly and prompted the crowd to cheer by citing the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity as the world’s biggest gathering of mad men. The cheer turned into laughter when he said, “ You should see some of the people I have to deal with.” On a more serious note, he made a call for everyone to help create the biggest campaign ever for humanity in support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Growth (SDG) goals, “The SDG is the most ambitious vision – and blueprint – to make the world much better, leaving no one behind. You can help make these ambitious goals a reality.”

Moon appealed and challenged the group, which he hailed as a gathering of the world’s best storytellers, to simplify the 17 goals and 169 targets set to be achieved by 2030, make it more understandable and therefore, actionable to more people. In addition, he called on everyone to make the SDG an inclusive agenda among its stakeholders.


With Moon onstage were holding company CEOs Yannick Bolloré (Havas), Michael Roth (Interpublic), John Wren (Omnicom), Maurice Levy (Publicis), Sir Martin Sorrell (WPP). Tadashi Ishii (Dentsu) pledged his support through a video message.

After Moon’s challenge to find a “Common Ground,” each of the CEOs pledged their respective group’s support to the SDG in general and to specific goals which they feel the urgency to focus on: IPG on the availability of sufficient and clear water, Omnicom on inclusive and quality education, Publicis on food (help diminish waste, eating closer to where food is produced, and more clever ways to share), and WPP on gender-equality.

Sir Martin Sorrell ended the session by mentioning that the Cannes Young Lions have embraced five of the SDGs and are running a competition on how best to communicate these goals. Sorrell also asked for involvement beyond the “big six” and summoned other agency groups to focus on refugees and immigration, and the issue of separation and isolation.

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