Got a problem? Look for the opportunity

Bernie Ecclestone said this in an interview last November: ‘I think Europe is finished. It will be a good place for tourism but little else. Europe is a thing of the past.’

The back story was about Ecclestone’s determination to change the shape of F1 by holding fewer GPs in Europe, and more elsewhere. But his words grated with a lot of people on a far broader front. People who believe Europe is absolutely not finished. Struggling maybe. Certainly not in great shape.

But still the cradle of our civilisation. Still rich in culture and invention. Unbelievably diverse. Impossibly beautiful. Incredibly, spectacularly wonderful. And a great place to grow up, live, love, work and prosper.

Luckily advertising folk read what Bernie wrote and decided to fight back. The way the ad world does. With insights, ideas, ingenuity and professionalism. The EACA (European Association of Communications Agencies) is the body that embraces all the national advertising communities of Europe.

Today in Brussels, as the continent’s creative cream gather to celebrate the Euro Effies (effectiveness awards to you and me) EACA President Moray MacLennan, Worldwide CEO of M&C Saatchi, announced an initiative called “This is my future”. He also unveiled an initial TV commercial idea.

The official statement from EACA says, ‘The initiative is designed to inspire 500,000 new start-up businesses over the next three years. Based on the average value-added per micro-business, this would deliver a gross added value of €33 million and nearly two million employed positions to the EU. The campaign will be supported by a budget of €2.2 million to be funded by private enterprise, venture capital and contributions in kind from partners’.

So Ecclestone made a highly negative pronouncement, which caused much consternation and a considerable problem for what had started to look something of a beleaguered region. Europe’s ad community saw not so much the problem. More the opportunity. Their response: the whole ambitious “This is my future” programme.

It all goes to prove one of my favourite beliefs: opportunities are far more important than problems.

With a problem, you are left with sorting out the plumbing. Even if you manage to solve it, you are often no better off than before the problem emerged.

Opportunities are infinitely more powerful. There are two higher order tasks: identifying them, and realising them.

Go for it, EACA! You’ve spotted the opportunity. Now it’s up to us all to help you turn it into reality.