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Cannes Lions: President Clinton calls on ad agencies to inspire social change

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By Stephen Lepitak | -

June 22, 2012 | 3 min read

Former US President Bill Clinton has called on ad agencies at this year's Cannes Festival of Creativity to help inspire people to social change around the world and build shared prosperity.

Speaking at the festival, Clinton shared his experience in working in delivering aid in Haiti, international migration, economic turmoil and his belief in global warming while promoting an ad competition to deliver a creative idea to tackle awareness around the issues.

"We can do this, but we need people like you to fire our imaginations and fill our brain as well as our hearts. You know how to overcome people's inherent resistance to the facts that try hadn't imagined we're true, but are. So I urge you to take the competition seriously. I urge you to think about both how you can do well and do good and I urge you to think about how you can help build a world of shared prosperity and share responsibilities."

Clinton also discussed the current issues around Greece's status within the Eurozone and said perception of Greece must also be altered.

"I hear them described as 'a basketcase' and all of these disparaging remarks, but the truth is they had bad politics," Clinton claimed. "They didn't have a good, effective tax collection system and promises were made that were fundamentally not achievable but average Greeks work a much longer dat than most Europeans.

"We need to figure out what we're going to do to improve the image and the self image of the Greeks, they're going to do whatever it takes to stay in the Eurozone. The question is, how can they break their shackles, not only of their past financial problems, but also of the perception of the world and increasingly that they aren't of the world and increasingly that they can't cut it. It's absurd. They can. Someone needs to set aside aid to provide entrepreneurship, education, anything that will empower people and give then a sense of momentum and hole again."

Clinton also highlighted the growing importance of shared networks in order to achieve social change, but added that despite social movements, politics was important in achieving radical and lasting changes.

"What works are created networks of co-operation. Things are changing fast and no-one has all the answers, but the more likely you are to get a crowd, the more likely they are to do something about it. It cannot all be done through social networks, and in cyberspace, as the reformers in Egypt learned."

He later added: "It is true that what works well as networks of co-operation. Everywhere on the world where people are forming these, they are doing well. And we just have to decide whether we want a future of creative co-operation or constant conflict, one of shared priorities and shared responsibility, or one where the winner takes all.

Speaking directly to the audience of marketers, he continued to state: "The people who do what you do have a major impact, first by telling people what the facts are. In the US, even thought an eight-year old can get on the Internet and find out in 30 seconds something I had to go to University to learn, there is an enormous amount of disinformation and an absence of emphasis on surpassing importance.

Clinton made the speech on behalf of Brazilian agency Groupo ABC which is celebrating its 10th year in existences and works with the Clinton Foundation.

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