Making a difference for Europe's bright sparks

Why Moray MacLennan wants the ad industry to help entrepreneurs build a future for Europe.

Moray MacLennan is the president of the EACA
Moray MacLennan is the president of the EACA

You will have noticed that Greece is in a spot of bother on the economic front. You will also have read that the future belongs to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. What you may not know is that the sick man of Europe's GDP per capita is actually significantly ahead of the much-touted BRICS.

Not that I am trying to launch an "our continent is better than your continent" debate, but just point out that Europe's death (see the recent Sunday Times headline "The world leaves Europe for dead") has been greatly exaggerated.

The European Association of Communications Agencies has decided to do something about this - if anyone is qualified to launch a campaign to introduce a positive voice into the debate, it's us.

We decided to create a campaign that could make a difference, so This Is My Future aims to help young people who want to start their own businesses.

More than 60 per cent of people in Europe consider becoming an entrepreneur to be desirable, but only 10 per cent of those who would like to set up a business actually do. If the people of Europe were as entrepreneurial as they are in the US, per capita, there would be an additional ten million businesses here.

First, we will provoke along the following lines: Europe's future is being written off by people who have mostly had theirs - older people. The future belongs to younger people. "You (old person) have no right to write off my future, you've had yours. I will determine my own. It's what I do, not what you say, that matters. I will not be a victim of other people's pessimism."

Then, the "inspire and help" bit: This Is My Future will be run by young people for young people. The aim is to have organisations in all 46 European countries, kicking off with the UK, Spain, Italy, Poland and Germany next year.

The This Is My Future web platform will help latent entrepreneurs by offering mentoring, information, tools and online forums shared across borders. It will also provide signposts to all relevant organisations across the continent.

This year in Cannes, Bill Clinton called on ad agencies to realise and use their power in a positive way. "Communications will have a profound influence over the next 20-30 years," he said. "Use your expertise at putting facts together in a simple way, that explains the issue, and what to do about it."

That is what we are doing.

Cynics will say: "Save your time and money, Europe is doomed. The future is bleaker, not better." I hope those cynics are vocal because, every time they speak, they will be fuelling this campaign's tank.

Moray MacLennan is the president of the EACA.