S2E02 Project Everyone: Reaching 7 billion people in 7 days

The second episode of our second series features an exciting conversation with Gail Gallie, co-founder of Project Everyone, an ambitious communications agency dedicated to accelerating the creation of a fairer world by 2030.

Gail studied at Oxford, and then later ran BBC Radio 1’s marketing department where she had an especially fun period.

She was then appointed CEO of ad agency Fallon, before quitting that to become business partners with British movie legend and founder of Comic Relief Richard Curtis.

Still not impressed? Gail also helped Tony Blair get into power by running his ad campaign.

In her fourth year of University, Gail ran out of money. She had to get a job, and she was determined to go to London. She soon started working in advertising which culminated in a political campaign, and that’s when she started feeling that she was on a mission.

With a love of music and successful campaign under her belt she sent a handwritten letter to the head of Radio 1 and landed a job at the BBC.

Does she recommend the BBC as a place to work? Massively. Gail confesses to being a huge believer in the public service broadcasting model. During the time she worked for the BBC, it was an impeccably feminist organisation, with most of the directors being women but does does think that it's time now that they have a female Director General.

Later on at ad agency Fallon

When she left the BBC, she founded a small consultancy with a friend. Afterwards she became the CEO of ad agency Fallon. By the time she got there, all the original founders had walked out because they had fallen out with the management.

After working hard to lift team spirits and bringing the right people in to help get the agency to where it needed to be, Gail realized that she just didn’t care enough about the company, and that another CEO of Fallon needed to have a sort of grit that just wasn’t in her.

Militating for purposeful cause: sustainable development

In September 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 global goals for sustainable development. If the goals are completed, this would translate into an end to extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030.

Gail’s idea was to reach 7 billion people in 7 days. To put things into perspective, there are currently 7.6 billion people living in the world. Together with Kate Garvey and Richard Curtis, she founded Project Everyone. How did it all start?

She met Kate while working on Tony Blair’s campaign. They were having a girl lunch one day, and after the lunch Kate left, walked into a meeting at Google, and bumped into Emma Freud, Richard Curtis’s girlfriend. Emma told Kate about Richard’s idea, and the three of them ended up working on it together. They tried to make some sort of plan for about three months, and were later joined by Katie Bradford who helped them put some order and structure into their project. Afterwards the whole thing really took off.

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What does Project Everyone do?

Project Everyone is a communications unit dedicated to the promotion of the Sustainable Development Goals. When they launched, their mission was only to drive awareness, but now they expanded their original goals into three main parts:

  • Awareness
  • Action: that’s trying to drive governments to take action in order to achieve the goals
  • Accountability: the 193 countries who signed up for this agreement need to be held accountable, and they also need to know that they will be held accountable

How can the UN hold a country accountable for something like that, you may ask. The Sustainable Development Goals are not legally binding, like the Paris agreement, for example. You don’t get fined if you don’t live up to your promises. What the UN does is convene. World leaders meet every year in September, at the UN General Assembly. They also meet every year in July and report on what they’re doing in order to achieve the goals. So the government of each country has to stand up and show its plan towards achieving the goals.

Project Everyone also works with a network of UN agencies that are focused on different areas (environment, women, and so on), and they are also in touch with the NGO community. All that on a global scale. If you add national agencies, NGOs, activists and local celebrities, you get a network that can put pressure on a backfiring government.

The Goal of the Goals

One time Richard and Gail were in New York with Paul Polman, the CEO of Unilever. Paul told them that what they needed to communicate was the goal of all these goals. So they took their time, thought about it, and came up with this.

The 17 sustainable goals cover basically everything, ranging from old goals that highlight poverty, hunger, gender equality, education and maternal mortality, to newer additions like energy, climate action, life under water, life on land, partnerships for the goals, peace and justice, innovation and infrastructure.

The goal of all these goals is a world where we managed to eradicate extreme poverty, where we made better inequalities, and where we reversed the effect of climate change. It’s all a holistic plan.