Roth Joins Ban Ki-moon and Industry Leaders to Support UN SDGs

Michael Roth, Chairman and CEO, IPG, joined UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, as well as leaders from the other major advertising holding companies in Cannes to announce the launch of Common Ground, a cross-industry initiative that will support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In an unprecedented step, rival parent company chief executives took the stage together at Cannes to demonstrate their shared commitment to deploying the power of the creative industries to help address the world’s most pressing problems.

The Common Ground program will begin with a global advertising campaign, with space donated by key business and thought-leadership publications. Following the Cannes Lions Festival, each group will focus on a specific area of the SDGs over the coming year, where possible working collaboratively across parent companies and will encourage other industries to find their own Common Ground. IPG will focus on Goal 6, ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

The six holding companies who are part of Common Ground – Dentsu, Havas, IPG, Omnicom, Publicis and WPP – have agreed to provide a development fund for each of the winning ideas in the Cannes Young Lions competition, which this year is devoted solely to the SDGs. These funds will be used to develop the concepts. This is the first time the Young Lions have been given a development fund, providing an opportunity to bring their ideas to fruition, directly contributing to the achievement of the goals and continuing to raise awareness of them.

The seventeenth and final SDG is based on the idea that collaborative partnerships will be essential if all of the SDGs, ranging from eradicating poverty to tackling climate change, are to be achieved. Speaking ahead of the Cannes Debate, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged competing firms from other sectors to follow suit and make their own Common Ground commitments to supporting the SDGs.

“Common Ground is breaking ground. This initiative is not only about the advertising industry’s considerable influence in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals around the world. By putting aside their differences, these companies are also setting a powerful example for others to follow,” commented the Secretary General.


In a joint statement, Tadashi Ishii, Chief Executive Officer and President of Dentsu; Yannick Bolloré, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Havas; Michael Roth, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of IPG; John Wren, President and Chief Executive Officer of Omnicom; Maurice Lévy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Publicis Groupe; and Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and Chief Executive Officer of WPP, said:

“The Common Ground initiative recognises that the global issues the UN has identified transcend commercial rivalry. By working in partnership to support the Sustainable Development Goals, we want to demonstrate that even fierce competitors can set aside their differences in order to serve a wider common interest. We hope others in and beyond our own business decide to do the same.”

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