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Creativity as a force for good

A new initiative headed by the World Economic Forum aims to enable marketers to leverage their expertise into social good. Creative For Good was officially introduced last week at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in a seminar featuring speakers from the World Economic Forum’s partners in this new project, The Advertising Council and Ketchum.

The panel discussed “using the power of creativity and media to spark social change”; specifically, to promote and enhance awareness of issues such as health, public safety in countries all over the developing and Western world. “It was clear there was a huge appetite among organisations and charities to find strategies to engage the public,” said David Gallagher, Senior Partner at Ketchum. “We want to develop this into a treasure chest and hope it becomes a catalyst for change.”

The purpose of the Creative For Good website is to share worldwide case studies of social advertising, offering up a multitude of examples of public service campaigns that have been effective in the past, and functioning as a resource for small organisations who might not know where or how to go about crafting their own campaign. Case studies include the MTV/Kaiser/CDC ‘Get Yourself Tested’ programme to reduce the spread of STDs, and A&T Viet Nam’s media campaign urging mothers to breast-feed their babies – created by Ogilvy & Mather Vietnam.

The website is set to grow, with Creative For Good welcoming case study submissions that fit the right criteria, i.e. an effective strategy that employed one or more paid, donated or earned media channels, including social platforms, from the last five years. Sales, marketing or fundraising campaigns are not eligible; at the heart of each campaign there must be a message related to social good.

While advertising is often seen as an impersonal and consumerist force, compelling people to buy into a lifestyle they cannot afford, it also has the potential to have a hugely positive impact, believes Diana El-Azar, Media Director at the World Economic Forum: “communications could be a hugely positive force in influencing people’s behaviour.”

A recent piece in the New York Times gaged perceptions of Creative For Good among public service professionals. Liz Feld, President of Autism Speaks in New York, said that she could “only see good things coming from this”, while Yulia Koval-Molodtsova at the Laboratory for Social Advertising in Moscow described the website as “a database that will make good quality campaigns more accessible to people who don’t have a chance to travel to advertising festivals”, making the Herculean task of “selling values” just a little easier.

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