Earlier this month One Direction, the world’s biggest band, launched an ambitious campaign to end extreme poverty, tackle inequality and slow down climate change with help from their millions of fans.

Powerful stuff from a powerful global millennial influencer which at last count had 24.2 million Twitter followers.

Last week saw Oystercatchers gather together the great and the good to see how best the media and communications industry could use its own huge influence and clout to make a significant difference.

The question: ‘Is being a Force for Good important to society? Is it a moral obligation, commercial savviness, or merely a CSR box-ticking exercise?’

Led by Oystercatchers CEO, Suki Thompson, the heavy-weight debate panel included Sir Vernon Ellis, Chairman, British Council; Amanda MacKenzie, CMO, Aviva [currently on UN secondment to lead the global education programme for sustainable development]; Tom Knox, President, IPA and Chairman, DLKW Lowe; Chris Macleod, Marketing Director, Transport for London; and Lord Moynihan.

Suki commented that we’re at the tipping point of how business is going to partner with charity as we think about how we work with politicians, empower people and become part of the journey. Tom Knox succinctly pointed out that market capitalism has been the single greatest contribution to human wellbeing ever – but it could be better…

Insights from our panel:

Amanda MacKenzie: We need to do more to help NGOs appreciate the value business brings to society. Today we can’t simply write a cheque to take away the guilt. We’ve moved on to helping at grassroots level. Learn from charities – we can always do more with less than we think.

Sir Vernon Ellis: We have to do a better job of explaining the value of business. Ask what the value is we’re providing – know it and provide it long term.

Lord Moynihan: Business and charity need to engage more. The industry needs to ensure this is for the long term.

Tom Knox: Invest more in your people to enable an advertising career to be a more compelling proposition. We need to start talking about the social, cultural and economic benefit of advertising as an industry.

Chris Macleod: Know your purpose and be authentic. Walk the talk.

Amanda MacKenzie: When it comes to CSR don’t just lipstick the pig.

Lord Moynihan: Environmental benefits and a real sense of belonging increase staff retention.

Sir Vernon Ellis: You need to keep renewing the reasons why you are doing the things you are doing for common good. Some aims are best achieved indirectly.

Lord Moynihan: It’s incumbent on all of us to engage with politicians through constructive engagement.

Meanwhile, according to One Direction’s Liam, Harry, Niall and Louis, “Time and again our fans have shown how creative and powerful they can be when they unite and that’s why we want to all join together to speak out and hopefully make a real and lasting change to the world around us.”

There’s no reason why we, as a united industry, can’t do the same.

To  read The Drum’s report of our evening please click here.