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3 December 2015

Woes, Women, Wins… and Cartoons

Written by: Oliver Kay, Account Manager at Edelman

Consumer Trends & Insight, Government Affairs

Edelman enjoys a global partnership with The Economist Events, where we provide communications marketing support for some of their key summits and conferences around the world. While on secondment at Edelman Hong Kong, I was fortunate to work with the team on The Economist Innovation Awards & Summit 2015, celebrating the world’s foremost disrupters, challengers and experts. Last week The Economist hosted its World in 2016 Gala Dinner, where luminaries shared their bold, candid and shocking forecasts for the year ahead. Not a patch on Edelman’s Crystal Ball Event obviously, but entertaining nonetheless…

Daniel Franklin, Executive Editor of The Economist, predicts 2016 will bring a bout of woes, women, and wins. There will be Olympic golds for Russia if they are allowed to participate in Rio, further despair in Syria and the subsequent migrant crisis, but we will see Clinton, Yellen and Merkel lead in some of the world’s biggest decisions.

For the Asia region? China’s Tier Two and Tier Three cities – places few outsiders have heard of: Guiyang; Xiangyang; and Hengyang – will be the drivers of dynamic growth. Under the economic reforms of Narendra Modi, India is predicted to grow by 7.1-7.9%. Japan could finally see the fruits of Abenomics, and Malcolm Turnbull is looking to secure a full term as Australia’s Prime Minister in next year’s election, after ousting the unpopular Tony Abbott.

The event itself marked a sombre tone in the aftermath of Paris. Former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, himself a sinologist and adviser to world governments, hopes for a global coalition in the fight against ISIS. But it won’t be easy, as we saw with Turkey downing a Russian jet after it allegedly entered its airspace. He also advocated a process of constructive realism for Sino-American relations. Both parties need to decide what they want from the relationship in the next decade and summarise this in three sentences – a good lesson for any communications professional.

Entrepreneur and deputy chief of staff to the President of Afghanistan, Kamila Sidiqi, provided welcome inspiration as she told the audience of her struggle as a fledgling businesswomen under the Taliban, initially having to hide her living room dress-making operation from passers-by. She assured us Afghanistan is open for business and investment – a welcome statement from a region that has seen relentless turmoil.

The highlight of the evening was a presentation by satirist Kevin Kallaugher (KAL), cartoonist for The Economist. His mantra: “The cartoonist’s role is not to make you laugh. It’s to make you think.” Many of his drawings will be familiar to readers as they often appear on the magazine front cover and next to the briefing section. After sketching an uncanny Merkel, a laughable Xi and a balloon-like Trump, full of hot air, attendees were encouraged to follow his lead and sketch their own cartoonish Putins.

2015 has been a year like no other in recent times, with satirists around the world under threat from terrorists and government forces alike. But do not fear! KAL assured us humour will thrive and flourish in 2016, and in overcoming the sword he encouraged us to keep our pens sharper than ever.

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