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Sir Frank Lowe, the British advertising supremo, said in 1987: "I've always had a passionate belief that advertising should be a force for good and that it should enrich the environment and not impoverish it."
It is a pertinent quote for the challenge being laid down by the Financial Times on Tuesday to launch The World's Toughest Briefs, a new competition for creative talent. In conjunction with OpenAd.net, an online marketplace for exchanging original advertising ideas, we will be publishing a challenging advertising brief each month and inviting readers to submit a solution.
The entries will be judged by a group of industry experts and the results and winner will be published each month on our Creative Business pages.
In line with Sir Frank's conviction, the first brief is to create a promotional idea for Make Poverty History, the campaign that brings together more than 300 charities, trade unions, faith groups and celebrities with the aim of generating awareness of global poverty and encouraging ordinary people to show their commitment to ending it.
Make Poverty History is geared towards influencing decisions to be made at this year's Group of Eight summit of leaders from the most industrialised nations in July. It is a three-pronged effort to reform the global trade system, eliminate third-world debt and encourage more and better aid.
The campaign has already been brought to the public's attention by Comic Relief and appeals by Nelson Mandela and Bono. The brief to promote Make Poverty History is challenging because it does not involve asking people to part with money, but instead to lend and register their support for the campaign.
Adrian Lovett, of the charity Oxfam and one of the co-ordinators of the campaign, explains the scale of the task: "Not only do we need to persuade policy makers but we need to build and sustain a level of public passion for this on par with support for the National Health Service."
Entries should encourage people to log on to the Make Poverty History website to register their support, put pressure on the government and wear the white band that has become the campaign's symbol.
While members of the Make Poverty History coalition have previously embarked on separate initiatives and events for each of the three strands of the campaign, they are now asking for the strands to be tied.
As well as being published in the Financial Times, the co-ordinators hope the winning entry will form part of the campaign. Make Poverty History has already been given advertising space by the media industry to be used during the coming months.
For the launch competition, Richard Curtis, vice-chairman of Comic Relief and the writer of Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral,will join the advertising and marketing experts on our regular judging panel.
Mr Curtis has taken a year off film work to campaign for Make Poverty History. "I believe that it's time to say enough is enough," says Mr Curtis. "Thanks to a series of landmark meetings with world leaders and a real understanding of how to stop the extremes of world poverty, this year could be the year when it's nailed once and for all."
Other judges include: Polly Cochrane, director of marketing, Channel 4. Greg Delaney, chairman of Delaney, Lund, Knox Warren & Partners. Gill Hart, marketing director, Financial Times. Amanda Mackenzie, vice-president of marketing for EMEA at Hewlett-Packard's customer solutions group. Peter Souter, executive creative director of AMV BBDO. Dianne Thompson, chief executive of Camelot Group.
The competition is open to all, from enthusiastic amateurs to established freelance creatives and agencies. While the adjacent article explores how the selection of an advertising agency often involves issues that go beyond a particular creative idea, companies such as OpenAd.net are trying to place ideas at the heart of the process and break down barriers for creatives. The operation gives them a platform on which to display their unbranded and unpublished work.
Katja Sköberne, managing partner at OpenAd.net, says: "This is a great opportunity for us to encourage the free-thinking, creative approach that underlies the OpenAd.net philosophy. The competition will enable the best creative brains to provide solutions to the hardest advertising briefs while gaining exposure among a savvy, commercially minded audience."
How to enter and terms and conditions
To enter the Competition, submit your entries via the OpenAd website www.openad.net before 2 April 2005. When entering work on OpenAd’s website, you agree to the author agreement conditions on the website. Do not send entries or material to The Financial Times Limited (“FT”)
• The winning entry will be published in the Creative Business pages within the Financial Times newspaper. FT will endeavour to arrange for further publication and promotion of the entry but is under no obligation to do so.
• By entering the Competition, you (and any contributors) agree to take part in any publicity relating to the Competition if you are invited to do so and without further compensation. Entrants warrant that they are the authors of the entry and grant FT and OpenAd the right to publish and reproduce the entries in all form and media now or developed in the future throughout the world for the full period of copyright and all renewal and extensions thereof.
• No cash equivalent is available. FT reserves the right to cancel or amend the terms of this Competition as required by circumstances.
• The decision of the judging panel is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
• FT, OpenAd and their agents and subcontractors cannot accept responsibility for entries lost or delayed in submission. Proof of submission is not proof of receipt.
• To the fullest extent that may be excluded by the law FT accepts no responsibility for or liability arising from participants taking part in the Competition.
• This Competition shall be governed by English Law and jurisdiction.
• Most people are aware of global poverty, even if they do not know its causes or scale. However, many view it as an impossibly intractable problem. Make Poverty History aims to persuade people that overcoming global poverty is about justice rather than charity and that global leaders must be urged to honour their pledge to halve poverty by 2015 through fairer trade, debt cancellation and more and better aid.
ROLE FOR COMMUNICATIONS
• To make people believe something can be done to end global poverty for good and that they can be part of that effort. The key thought to be communicated is that, with your help, global poverty can be made history.
WHAT WE NEED
• Ideas that explain the problem and convince people to support the cause. These ideas could run in any format, from advertising, direct marketing and public relations to letters and e-mails. The campaign is not asking for money; it is asking people to show their support, to wear a symbolic white band and, in particular, and to log on to the website.
• For more details of the campaign, go to www.makepovertyhistory.org
• For a more detailed brief, go to www.openad.net