The case for CSR and Traditional Branding

Levi HIV
Brand a marketing program effectively to increase profitability

I am a leading businessman in South Africa and own numerous companies here.  I’m constantly looking for innovative ways to grow my business but at the same time capture the loyalty and imagination of people in and outside of our existing sphere of influence.  I was recently reading a fascinating case study on Levi Strauss and their Corporate Social Responsibility and did further investigation on their operations in South Africa.

I found myself greatly inspired.

Levi Strauss South Africa is one of the 110 countries in which their jeans wear & accessories are sold and they’re the number 1 brand in this sector.

I wondered how they’re ensuring brand differentiation in our jeans market which is hugely competitive?  After all you can’t have a relationship with a pair of jeans.

According to Levi they’re not spending significant sums of money on traditional branding.  So, how are they building a highly trusted brand amongst South African youth on a subject 75% of them feels is critical?

They took in my opinion a very courageous step and began addressing the Nations number 1 health concern ie. HIV/AIDS.

They began within their own workplace and in 2008 they launched their HIV/AIDS Prevention Treatment and Care Program.

For this CSR initiative to have legs, senior executives had to drive the initiative and be fully engaged in it.  It represented the core values of the company and judging from their corporate marketing material is linked to their mission and vision.

Not only creating business value but social value as well.  I would also like to add that the higher up the CSR projects are positioned within the company the greater the perceived value of those initiatives.

I discovered, that they marketed the program internally to all staff providing innovative and interactive in-person prevention education and offered free voluntary and confidential HIV testing for all employees, as well as free HIV/AIDS treatment and care for employees and dependents in need. They provided life-saving information, testing and care for their workforce in South Africa.   This program was then rolled out to South African youth and branded ‘Red for Life’.

Key components of ‘Red for Life’ include testing, prevention and education among South African youth. They utilize mobile testing facilities that provide testing at locations frequented by young people, including Levi’s® stores and university campuses. People who test positive are provided up to four months of counseling and service referrals.

Very importantly, it’s a highly effective way to recruit and retain top talent, as prospective and existing employees tend to be more loyal to companies that have a proven commitment to CSR.

This has obvious and positive implications for the bottom line.

Rage for the Revolution, Red for Life’s signature concert series, offers concert tickets to young people who get tested for HIV, allowing them to see the country’s most popular music stars, many of whom also get tested publicly and appear in Levi’s®branded public service announcements. To date the campaign has tested more than 90,000 young people and given away more than one million branded condoms.

This meets another critical component of CSR which is to ensure that companies brand their cause marketing programs effectively to increase profitability.

Levi created a dedicated website for the program read more

As a successful South African businessman, I believe that Levi Strauss’s approach to HIV/AIDS in South Africa demonstrates a sustained commitment to our citizens who are both employees and the general public, with a program that improves or save lives and increases corporate profits year on year. 

Something traditional branding cannot do alone.

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