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Google, Global Advertising Groups Tap YouTube to Mobilize Gen Z Around SDGs

Image Credit: The Common Future Project/YouTube

Google and Common Ground — an alliance of six major advertising holding companies — believe Generation Z could be the key to unlocking an SDG-aligned future. To drive widespread awareness and mobilize action among mission-driven youth around the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda, the two organizations have launched The Common Future Project action campaign.

The campaign will combine Google’s resources with the expertise of multidisciplinary teams from some of the world’s largest advertising and marketing services to engage the current generation of movers and shakers via YouTube.

During a three-day workshop in April at the YouTube Space in New York, teams from Dentsu, Havas, IPG, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, WPP and Wieden+Kennedy met with UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed and the UN’s SDG Team for briefings on challenges of galvanizing Gen Z around the SDGs.

From there, the groups worked together to brainstorm ideas designed to spur Gen Z (aged 15 to 24) — the largest generation of youth in history — into action. Ideas included a proposed movement to lower the voting age and the creation of a good news network to highlight the good being done in the world.

“In the year since the launch of Common Ground, we have seen companies across the world uniting behind the Sustainable Development Goals. The Common Future Project is an unprecedented physical manifestation of that commitment to collaborate and to the important role our industry can take in addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges,” said Toshihiro Yamamoto, President and CEO of Dentsu; Yannick Bolloré, Chairman and CEO of Havas Group; Michael Roth, Chairman and CEO at IPG; John Wren, President and CEO of Omnicom Group; Arthur Sadoun, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe; Neil Christie, Global COO of Wieden+Kennedy; and Sir Martin Sorrell, Founder and CEO of WPP, in a joint statement.

Common Ground members also explored the cultural influence of YouTube and how the power of video is helping brands and creators generate positive social change.

On the final day of the workshop, the teams had three hours to shoot, produce and edit rough videos of their concepts in the YouTube Space before pitching to a panel of experts, which included UN SDG Advocate Alaa Murabit; Jake Horowitz, Co-Founder of Mic.com; Madonna Badger, Founder and CEO of Badger & Winters; and Golriz Lucina, Head of Creative for SoulPancake

“When we first learned about the Common Ground initiative last year, we saw a terrific convergence of interests and values. Time and time again, we’ve all seen the power of video and YouTube to help affect positive social change. So, we’re thrilled to be able to shine a spotlight on the great collaboration of these agencies coming together for the common good and are committed to helping their great ideas come to life on our platforms,” said Torrence Boone, VP of Global Agency Development at Google.

Over the next few months, a virtual cross-agency team will work to develop and produce the winning idea into a broader campaign, set to launch later this summer. The campaign will tap into the range of ways to tell stories on YouTube, including the newest format, built-for-mobile bumper ads (:06) and longer-form content. Google has committed a grant of global YouTube media to support and amplify the campaign.

“You often hear about how socially, politically attuned and invested Millennials are — Gen Z are even more so. You marry that with the fact that they are tuned in — 50 percent say they can’t live without YouTube…they spend a tremendous amount of time exchanging videos — it just makes sense we tap into that scale and influence to create a rallying cry,” Boone added.

UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed also weighed in on the launch of The Common Future Project: “The Sustainable Development Agenda is the most ambitious anti-poverty, pro-planet agenda ever adopted by the UN. The Common Future Project recognizes the power of young people as global agents of change. I commend the Common Ground partners for this creative effort to transform the video platforms that young people use into platforms for action for a world of peace and dignity for all.”


Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]


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