Leading the Effort on Climate Change

As Copenhagen Talks Open, Havas' David Jones Looks at Agencies' Crucial Role

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David Jones
David Jones
The Copenhagen climate change talks start today. We are all hoping that the world's leaders will come to a global, fair and binding agreement on how to address the major climate issue facing the world.

Leading up to Copenhagen, the world wasn't sure which world leaders would attend and how much progress those that attend would make. We're still not. What is interesting, however, is the role that social media and the advertising industry has played in putting pressure on the leaders to take this cause seriously and to act.

From campaigns such as Hopenhagen, to our Tck Tck Tck campaign with Kofi Annan, which just a few days ago surpassed 10 million supporters globally, our industry came together to play a role on this very important issue.

I've always held the view that what our industry actually excels at is the ability to use our creativity to change people's behavior. Today I believe that in the creative industries we not only have an opportunity, but an obligation to use that talent and our creativity to change people's behavior and affect some of the major issues facing the world.

Alongside Kofi Annan and Bob Geldof, we launched the Tck Tck Tck campaign in June in Cannes. Annan is deeply engaged in the plight of those who have contributed least to global warming but who are suffering the most -- what he calls climate justice, or the principle that "polluter pays." We were extremely keen to help him raise awareness of climate justice and create a vehicle for people around the world to express their support and concern to our world leaders.

The idea behind the campaign was very simple: We wanted to create a movement, rather than a campaign. But a movement with a deadline. The very specific deadline was Copenhagen in December, and a bigger picture deadline is the clock ticking away on the future of the world if the right decisions aren't made in Copenhagen.

We put movement, deadline and clock together and came up with the powerful and digital -- in all senses of the word -- "tck tck tck" campaign that would put pressure on the world's political leaders to deliver a binding, just and global agreement in Copenhagen this week.

The most important element of the campaign is that it was open-source. We didn't want a campaign that we controlled and owned. We wanted it to become a movement that consumers, advertisers, other agencies and the media would leverage everywhere possible.

Creating a digital petition was key, but we went a step further and included our in-house record label The Hours to create the campaign track, a remake of Midnight Oil's "Beds Are Burning." It was created to be more than just a piece of music, though, as it was designed to be a giant global digital petition -- every download (and it's free, thanks to Midnight Oil) acting as a digital signature on the petition for Copenhagen -- a world first. More than 100 stars and celebrities from around the world gave their time for free to make it a reality.

Six months after we launched the campaign, it's been a massive success. We've just surpassed 10 million supporters, the British government officially supported the campaign and asked Britain's top 100 businesses and media personalities to put their efforts behind it and the likes of HSBC, Google, Kraft, Apple, Volvo, YouTube, National Magazines, Canal +, Virgin Radio, The Atlantic and USA Today have all joined us in the effort to raise awareness of climate change and climate justice. Many high-profile climate allies have signed on to support the cause as well, including Desmond Tutu; Bob Geldof; the U.K.'s Prince Charles; Ted Turner; The Netherlands' Prince Willem-Alexander; Muhammad Yunus; Tavis Smiley; Jamie Burke; Mary Robinson; Melanie Laurent; Marion Cotillard; Yannick Noah; and many more. Importantly the open-source campaign has been adopted around the world, with everything from massive stunts in Central Park by Oxfam to Greenpeace at the gates of Beijing to the huge global TV and press coverage to Young & Rubicam in Brazil producing a great Tck Tck Tck TV commercial.

At the start of the year most people thought that Copenhagen was just a small city in Denmark. Today, the world knows that it's the venue for the critical climate talks and the world's leaders know that this is a big issue for the citizens of the world. Our industry has played a role in ensuring this happened. The results of the campaign show both the power of social media today and the depth of concern around climate change.

Copenhagen doesn't just represent a time for our world leaders to come together and create change; it also represents the importance of us shifting our focus globally to more socially responsible businesses. Consumers are demanding it. And the best businesses in the world are leading the way. We now need the world's leaders to do the same.

David Jones is global CEO of Havas Worldwide and Euro RSCG Worldwide.