Business: A powerful force for
interfaith understanding & peace


Mark Woerde

About Havas Lemz: At Havas Lemz we believe in using creativity for a better world. By building brands and businesses. Making the world better by improving business is not an easy job. But we love it.

Nomination in Brief

Mr. Mark Woerde, Founder Havas Lemz and, believes he can make the world a better place through advertising. This year his team advanced interfaith understanding and peace in a global campaign featuring the world’s most prominent religious leaders – from Pope Francis to Ayatollahs, Chief Rabbis and Hindu Swamis – making a joint appeal to “Make Friends Across Religions.”


Mark Woerde is co-founder of the Amsterdam-based ad agency Havas Lemz and the non-profit organization AdAge ranked him one of 50 most creative people in the world. He started promoting prosocial advertising in 2011 when he delivered the world’s most comprehensive body of evidence that people are waiting for brands to embrace and promote altruistic values. These findings grew into the bestselling book “How Advertising Will Heal The World and Your Business.” In 2014, Mark’s dream to set a world wide radical example of how creativity can make this world a better place was realized. Mark with his team and Terre des Hommes, put Webcam Child Sex Tourism successfully on the agenda of politicians and police forces all over the world with the virtual girl Sweetie. In 2015 Mark initiated the Make Friends Across Religions project that was launched in June 2017 and has reached and touched at least 200 million people. Out of the spotlights, Mark works for many notable brands like Ikea and the Rabobank.

More Detail

The concept Mark and his team initiated and realized was: “The World’s Most Prominent Religious Leaders Make Historical Joint Appeal to Everyone: Make Friends Across Religions.” The full video statement can be found on the press website. The message could also be seen via many news outlets around the world. The conservative estimate of the unique number of actual people who have seen the statement at date of submission is 200 million and is expected to grow over the coming months.

The most prominent leaders of the world’s major religions released a joint appeal last June 14, 2017 calling on the people of the world to unify and make friends across religions. The statement is intended to reduce social tension around the world by stimulating interpersonal contact between people of different faiths. It was made by Pope Francis, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, H.H. the Dalai Lama, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and many others. Personal contact is believed to counter misperceptions, prejudices and distrust. The appeal was released as a 3-minute video on Twitter (#MakeFriends) in 16 languages during a press conference in London.

Each of the leaders contributed a personal statement for the exclusive purpose of creating this joint appeal. Ayatollah Al-Milani advises people to make friends with followers of all religions. Patriarch Bartholomew calls on the world to “recognize the beauty of God in every living human being”. Pope Francis and Rabbi Abraham Skorka demonstrate how their religious experiences have been enriched by their interfaith friendship. Grand Mufti of Egypt Shawki Allam stresses not to focus on differences between religious groups. The Dalai Lama calls for a deepening of spiritual friendship.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says “One of the wonderful things about spending time with people completely unlike you is that you discover how much you have in common. The same fears, hopes and concerns.” Archbishop of the Church of Sweden Antje Jackelén stresses the importance for society: “This should start a process that will take prejudices away and where new insights and hope is born.” The Archbishop of Canterbury adds that “It’s not complicated, start with sharing what we all share, which is the pleasure of conversation.”

Nominated by:

  • Havas Lemz