Collaborative approach marks new age of CSR
A new wave of research hopes to boost brand awareness and interest in the One Young World summit taking place next year. But can the project succeed? asks Mark Choueke
The inaugural One Young World (OYW) summit next February hopes to promote responsible attitudes among the world leaders and chief executives of the future. On 5 August, the organisation started a profile-raising campaign by revealing the results of an ongoing survey by YouGovStone into the attitudes and concerns of young people around the globe.
But while OYW aims to leverage news-grabbing projects such as the research to attract brand involvement and sponsorship, can it succeed in its ambitious goals? By aiming to lay the foundations for good governance of the future now, OYW is arguably the most forward-looking and comprehensive piece of corporate social responsibility ever attempted.
OYW was founded by Euro RSCG global chief executive David Jones and based on an idea dreamed up by the agency’s group chairman Kate Robertson. When 1,500 25-year-olds meet in London next February, they will debate the concerns raised in the research and draft “resolutions” to help meet these issues.
“Success,” says Jones, speaking to Marketing Week from New York, “will be measured in the number of attendees that go on to run countries and big businesses in the future. We’ll also see how much impact the resolutions have when presented to world leaders and the wider global community.”
The resolutions will be presented to the UN, the next G8 and G20 and the Global Humanitarian Forum by OYW supporters that include Bob Geldof, Kofi Annan and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The most recent figure to sign-up is Oscar Morales, the Colombian engineer behind a Facebook campaign against terror group FARC that rallied 12 million people to march for the cause in more than 40 countries.
But while China and India will send more than 200 delegates to next February’s summit, Jones and Robertson’s immediate concerns involve getting businesses to support the scheme. Delegates must be sponsored at a cost of €3,000 (£2,500) each.
At the last count, 400 delegates of the target 1,500 have been paid for, while money is pledged for another 650. Euro RSCG accrued for losses last year in case OYW fails (if 1,500 delegates attend then the agency breaks even on its investment) but Robertson is confident of success despite admitting: “There is risk; this thing might be a disaster.”
“We’ve said we will support One Young World operationally for five years to get it on its feet but we believe we can set it up as an independent non-governmental organisation (NGO) after three years,” she says. “If nothing else, then 1,500 young people get to see Bob Geldof and Desmond Tutu address them, which is powerful in itself.”
While it is clear what young people will get out of the OYW process, what is the lure for brands who are keeping their eyes on short-term financial goals and may not see employees of the future as their immediate responsibility?
Robertson and Jones admit the initial package for brands sponsoring delegates is light on tangible returns. Any company sponsoring 100 delegates or more, however, will find its logo at the entrance to the summit’s two London venues and on all official communications.
Some sponsors are discussing opportunities to take half-hour slots to talk about their CSR programmes between sessions but Robertson adds that all material is carefully vetted. “I’ve not offered any branding inside the venues and nobody has asked for any,” she adds.
The list of corporate participants will not be released until the end of September but Euro RSCG claims it includes many of the world’s most famous brands. Some of the most supportive companies are even matching the number of delegates they send from their own businesses with the same number from NGOs around the world.
Other supporters are participating in different ways. Malaysian entrepreneur and AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes has agreed to donate flights to take delegates to London.
The benefits for the advertising agency in being involved with so many businesses above and beyond the social element, meanwhile, is clear. “We now have a relationship with 21 UK companies alone that are sending delegates from all over the world; these are brands we’ve never worked with,” says Robertson.
Jones argues, however, that corporate benefits are the last thing on his mind. “I spend my life telling clients that consumers are increasingly interested in the values of the company behind the product. We needed an answer for our own business.”
With figures like Morales on board, whose social causes work now includes projects with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Google, YouTube and MTV as well as his initial FARC campaign, it seems that OYW will be using digital channels increasingly heavily in the run-up to February to help push its message.
Jones sums up: “CSR is changing. This is the start of a new age of CSR using collaboration and open-source marketing. This could be an era of getting things done.”
Facts & figures
One Young World
- One Young World (OYW) aims to attract 1,500 25-year-olds to its first summit, which will be held in February at two venues, ExCeL London and Old Billingsgate.
- The aim is to ensure that the 1,500 delegates proportionally represent the global population as closely as possible with small countries represented by at least two delegates.
- The summit programme will be shaped by ongoing research into the concerns of 25-year-olds around the world, conducted by online research agency YouGovStone.
- Themes covered at the summit include media, business, the environment and health.
- Visit www.oneyoungworld.com for further details.