While WPP had yet another successful Cannes Lions Festival it was the announcement from the company to take on a series of initiatives designed to ensure it is playing its part in tackling pollution from single-use plastics by the end of the year demonstrated to me the company vision of a creative transformation company.
WPP will no longer buy or provide single-use plastics such as bottles, straws, cutlery, and cups in any of its 3,000-plus agency offices and campuses worldwide. And it will make it easier for people to recycle their own plastic materials at work.
WPP has also signed the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, led jointly by UN Environment and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, thereby endorsing the vision of a circular economy for plastic in which it is designed never to become waste or pollution. Other signatories include Colgate-Palmolive, Danone, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Nestlé, PepsiCo, SC Johnson, The Coca-Cola Company and Unilever.
The company has also committed to working with partners and clients to inspire consumers to think differently about plastic packaging and change their behavior; create more sustainable approaches to product and packaging design, and develop new systems for delivering and recycling products.
Facebook is among the first partners to collaborate; the two companies are exploring ways to work together to harness their collective global reach to drive action among consumers.
The Cannes announcement follows a special internal WPP summit in May which brought together people from across the company’s agencies to discuss how to reduce the impact of plastic on the planet, from redesigning products, packaging and experiences to creating closed-loop systems and using communications to improve recycling rates.
It also builds on various existing initiatives within WPP agencies. To kick off the program, WPP will host a series of “Unpack the Problem” creative hackathons over the summer to develop actionable ideas that help tackle plastic pollution.
Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said: “Our industry has the tremendous collective power to bring about change for the better, but our efforts have to begin at home. Taking the plastic out of Wire & Plastic Products by phasing out single-use plastics in our offices is just the first step. People expect companies to act responsibly and help them live more sustainably, and our clients look to us to help them deliver brands with purpose. We look forward to working with partners across the industry and using our creativity, insight, and scale to make a difference.”
On the Cannes Advertising award front, the WPP agencies brought home more than 180 Lions, including five Grand Prix: Air Max Graffiti Stores by AKQA São Paulo for Nike; Keeping Fortnite Fresh by VMLY&R Kansas City for Wendy’s; The Tampon Book: A Book Against Tax Discrimination by Scholz & Friends Berlin for The Female Company; The Last Ever Issue by VMLY&R Warsaw for Gazeta.pl, Mastercard and BNP Paribas (a collaboration with Wavemaker that also won a Titanium); and Bluesman, again by AKQA São Paulo, for Baco Exu do Blues.
Notable Gold-winning work included campaigns for Burger King and Coca-Cola by Ogilvy’s DAVID Miami; Wunderman Thompson London’s The Not So Beautiful Game for the National Centre for Domestic Violence; and The People’s Seat for the UN from a WPP team led by Grey London with BCW, Finsbury, Kantar, MediaCom, Townhouse Productions and Wildfire all contributing.