|The Business Response to HIV/AIDS: Innovation & Partnership (UNAIDS, 1997, 60 p.)|
|Examples of Company Actions on HIV/AIDS|
A. THE COMPANY
Levi Strauss Europe is an operating division of the international apparel company Levi Strauss and Co., which is based in San Francisco. It has manufacturing plants in Scotland, Belgium, France and Spain, and distribution facilities, and its products are sold across Europe. In 1996, Levi Strauss Europe had close to US$ 2 billion in sales,, contributing about 30% of the company's worldwide revenues for that year.
B. REASONS FOR ACTION ON HIV/AIDS
As Levi Strauss and Co. is headquartered in San Francisco, it felt the impact of the disease in the United States in the early 1980s. Since then, the company has developed a global approach to HIV/AIDS in respect of both employees and the wider community (see Profile 14 for more details).
Part of the company's strategy is to empower its overseas operating divisions to create their own distinctive contributions to fighting the disease that take local conditions into account and use appropriate company resources. The European division has developed such an approach in response.
C. EXAMPLE ACTIONS
The European division has used some of its philanthropic dollars to support HIV/AIDS organisations, and with company backing, employees have also raised money for these organisations.
Additionally, the European division has helped spread AIDS awareness to young people in the European market in general, as well as in the local communities where it has facilities. On World AIDS Day in 1996, for example, Levi Strauss Europe joined with The Body Shop and Virgin Records to distribute AIDS education packets to consumers through 600 of its retail partners across Europe.
Especially creative and striking was the European division's decision to work with the Health Education Board of Scotland in adapting a mainstream Levi's jeans advertisement to deliver AIDS education messages. The Health Education Board recognised the power of Levi's 501 jeans Drugstore" commercial to communicate with young people, and asked if they could adapt it for a public safe-sex campaign in Scotland.
The original featured a young man buying condoms from a chemist before meeting his girlfriend who turns out to be the daughter of the chemist. The original Levi's ad closed with the phrase "The Watchpocket: created in 1873, abused ever since". The Health Education Boards version used the same advertisement but closed on the phrase Condoms what to wear when you're not wearing jeans. Bartle, Bogle, Hegarty, Levi Strauss and Co.'s advertising agency that created the advertisement, made the change for a cost of only US$ 35,000.
D. RESULTS TO DATE
The Health Education Board advertisement was an amusing and engaging version of the original, which was then shown in 150 cinemas between September and December 1996. This resulted in new interest in basic healthcare messages and additional exposure time for the Levi's ad a significant benefit to both parties..
Levi Strauss and Co. said of the campaign: "This partnership between a public and a private organisation highlights that it is possible to bridge the gap between the two apparently distinct and far apart worlds: the world of commercial success and the world of social responsibility. Our company is walking that bridge, and making significant progress." 1
1 "Let's Live", Levi Strauss Europe, 1997.
Contact: Alan Christie
European Community Affairs Director
Levi Strauss Europe
Avenue Louise 489, 1050 Brussels
Tel: 32 2 641 6011
Fax: 32 2 640 0852