WPP, Publicis, Omnicom, IPG, Havas and Dentsu unite for ‘Common Ground’ UN initiative

UN Common Ground

Usually fierce rivals, the six largest holding companies in the world today (24 June) revealed that they had come together for an aptly named ‘Common Ground’ initiative to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The idea was sparked by a conversation between WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell and former Us vice president Al Gore at the Cannes Lion festival last year, with the former calling upon competitors to join him in "linking arms" as a symbol of their united stance against climate change.

12 months on, the group took to the stage alongside the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reveal that not only would they tackle climate change, but five other SDGs as well.

Over the next few years, each has dedicated to help tackle one area both within their own organisations and through client work.

Havas has taken climate change, IPG safe water, Publicis has committed to food, Dentsu health, Omnicom education and finally WPP’s will take on gender diversity.

Sorrell also called on other agencies to come together to tackle one more issue – refugees and immigration.

A joint statement was issued by the firms' chief executives, which read: "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."

The irony of them coming together for the first time for the greater good just hours after Britain’s decision to leave the European Union was revealed was not lost on the group.

Ban Ki-moon said in his opening speech that he has “never been more convinced that when we work together, we are stronger” while Sorrell expressed his dismay at the shock decision.

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Jennifer Faull

Jen Faull is Brands Editor at The Drum. Based in London, she has interviewed major business figures including top marketers from Mondelez, Unilever, Tesco, and Lidl.

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