An ad agency goes in search of the world's next leaders
Monday 16 November 2009
In between overseeing the ad campaign which may propel David Cameron into No 10 next spring, the irrepressible David Jones, is working on a project which could have an even great bearing on the future.
Jones, left, runs the advertising agency Euro RSCG, which won the Tory account after producing an image for The Sun's campaign for a European referendum, which ended up as the newspaper's front page. Featuring Gordon Brown in a Churchillian pose, but with his two fingers stuck up in disdain, it carried the slogan: "Never have so few decided so much for so many."
Now Jones and Euro RSCG's UK group chairman Kate Robertson are planning an ambitious event they hope will allow all our futures to be decided by the many. The plan is to bring 1,500 young people, each chosen for their "leadership potential and engagement in social works", to London from across the world.
For three days in February, these under-25s will try to shape ideas that might influence the policies of world leaders. One Young World, Jones hopes, will be "almost a leadership academy for the brilliant young people of the world". Smart networking has already elicited the support of Kofi Annan, Bob Geldof and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who will act as counsellors to the delegates, as has Richard Sambrook, the director of the BBC World Service and Global News. YouTube, France's Virgin Radio and The Times of India are among media groups running campaigns to encourage young people to put themselves forward as candidates and raise sponsorship to cover the €3,000 cost of their place.
So in February, the Excel centre in Docklands, which hosted the G20 summit, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson will welcome the likes of Sunita Basnet, 24, a Nepalese human rights worker and graduate of the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh, and Daniel Buritica Cordoba, also 24, an industrial engineering graduate from Bogota who founded the Colombian Network of Youth. "There are not lines between countries, there is only the need to preserve cultures and end frontiers," Jones says. "We need the energy of young people as the engine of change. We want to build new ideologies with young people's ideas."
In order to avoid the usual Western skew of such gatherings, the delegations from each country will reflect their national populations, with the largest groups inevitably coming from China and India.
Jones says the pace of change in technology means this not-for-profit venture is about more than just gestures of international goodwill but about listening even more carefully to a demographic with which the advertising industry is famously obsessed. "There's something very different about this young generation," he adds. "They have access to knowledge and information that no other generation has had before."
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