An ad agency goes in search of the world’s next leaders

Author: By Ian Burrell

Jones, left, runs the advertising agency Euro RSCG, which won the Tory account
after producing an image for The Sun’s campaign for a European referendum,
which ended up as the newspaper’s front page. Featuring Gordon Brown in a
Churchillian pose, but with his two fingers stuck up in disdain, it carried
the slogan: “Never have so few decided so much for so many.”

Now Jones and Euro RSCG’s UK group chairman Kate Robertson are planning an
ambitious event they hope will allow all our futures to be decided by the
many. The plan is to bring 1,500 young people, each chosen for their “leadership
potential and engagement in social works”, to London from across the
world.

For three days in February, these under-25s will try to shape ideas that might
influence the policies of world leaders. One Young World, Jones hopes, will
be “almost a leadership academy for the brilliant young people of the
world”. Smart networking has already elicited the support of Kofi
Annan, Bob Geldof and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who will act as counsellors
to the delegates, as has Richard Sambrook, the director of the BBC World
Service and Global News. YouTube, France’s Virgin Radio and The Times of
India are among media groups running campaigns to encourage young people to
put themselves forward as candidates and raise sponsorship to cover the
?3,000 cost of their place.

So in February, the Excel centre in Docklands, which hosted the G20 summit,
the Mayor of London Boris Johnson will welcome the likes of Sunita Basnet,
24, a Nepalese human rights worker and graduate of the Asian University for
Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh, and Daniel Buritica Cordoba, also 24, an
industrial engineering graduate from Bogota who founded the Colombian
Network of Youth. “There are not lines between countries, there is only
the need to preserve cultures and end frontiers,” Jones says. “We
need the energy of young people as the engine of change. We want to build
new ideologies with young people’s ideas.”

In order to avoid the usual Western skew of such gatherings, the delegations
from each country will reflect their national populations, with the largest
groups inevitably coming from China and India.

Jones says the pace of change in technology means this not-for-profit venture
is about more than just gestures of international goodwill but about
listening even more carefully to a demographic with which the advertising
industry is famously obsessed. “There’s something very different about
this young generation,” he adds. “They have access to knowledge
and information that no other generation has had before.”

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