De Clerck Admonishes Advertisers to 'Listen, Listen, Listen'

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One of the most interesting people I met at Cannes last week was Herve De Clerck, who runs Ad Forum and Act Responsible.

In this video he talks about how Ad Forum operates, and in great length about Act Responsible -- its humble roots out of the ashes of 9/11, and how it's pushing to do two interesting things:

o Encourage the advertising industry to contribute its talent to social and environmental causes

o Promote the work of those that do

"Every year we gather the work for social and environmental issues ... and every year, we put on an exhibition," he said. The exhibition was held with support from DraftFCB, on a sunny terrace alongside the Palais, where you could grab a coffee, check out the beach and stroll at leisure through a wide-open gallery of interactive and print-based cause work from around the world.

"People can come in and see the advertising industry gets involved [...] not only sells soap and beer and cars," De Clerck stated, which was especially compelling. Here's someone who understands advertising isn't just about punting Coca-Cola; it also teaches you what your society values, and how best to function in it.

That's a massive responsibility, and one that merits some consideration when you think about how you're framing a message for an audience of individuals, whose purchases and acts ultimately affect all of us.

De Clerck also talked about his personal designation as "Dream Leader." Asked what he'd say if he could make one statement that would move the industry in any direction he pleased, his response was simple enough but moving -- especially given how long he's been in the industry:

"Get close to the consumer. Listen to people, listen to people, listen to people."

This is no jaded ECD. This is somebody who sees our industry in the same way as groundfloor creatives, fresh out of school, still hoping to change man's legacy.

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