Polman was recognized for his vision and commitment to make sustainable living commonplace – driving long-term, responsible business growth in the process. Polman has set Unilever on an ambitious journey to fully decouple its environmental footprint and increase its positive social impact through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
“Good multiplies,” said Polman in accepting his award. “Acting for good is the most powerful voice in the world.”
The ongoing effort by the consumer goods giant aims to improve health and wellbeing for more than a billion people, reduce environmental impact by half and enhance livelihoods for millions.
The dinner for the Ad Council – the organization behind iconic and impactful public service campaigns including ‘Love Has No Labels’ and Smokey Bear – was hosted by Samantha Bee, star of TBS’s Emmy-winning Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, a champion of diversity and equality through her humor. She got in a few timely zingers on the night as well.
“Can someone get rid of all the mistletoe in Alabama, and Hollywood, and Matt Lauer’s old office?” she said to a group laugh.
She even took a few lighthearted swipes at the industry.
“May we return to a time where Pepsi’s worst mistake was making Crystal Pepsi.”
With over 1,500 attendees from the media, marketing, advertising and corporate communities, the dinner also recognized industries and individuals who supported the Ad Council and its public service campaigns over the last year. The night included inspiring appearances from those who have been personally impacted by Ad Council campaign issues, including: Jeannette McCoy, a Puerto Rican lesbian living in Orlando who survived the Pulse Nightclub shootings and was part of the “Fans of Love” PSA for Love Has No Labels; Ashley Garcia Rivera, who was adopted from foster care at the age of 16 and founded Suitcases of Hope which gives hope to others in foster care; Ella Griffith-Tager, a 12-year-old who has dyslexia and dreams of being a rocket scientist; and Samantha Jacobs, who depends on a local food pantry to help feed her family but is passionate about helping others in similar situations.
The dinner was chaired by David Sable, global chief executive of Y&R and chair of the Ad Council’s board of directors. It concluded with a live performance from musicians Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo.
“This year’s dinner was a truly sensational and inspiring celebration of all that our industry does for social good,” said Lisa Sherman, president and chief executive officer of the Ad Council. “When we come together, there is no doubt that we transform distinct and altruistic moments into collective movements that impact millions of people throughout the country.”