Aldo Group is launching a new global fundraising and awareness campaign for AIDS called #FriendsFight.
The Montreal-based footwear and accessories retailer will release a collection of friendship bracelets designed in collaboration with Waris Ahluwalia, designer and CEO of Waris Loves You and House of Waris. The bracelets, which will be available in select Aldo stores worldwide and online starting Feb. 1, retail for $5 with 100% of net proceeds donated to Partners in Health, which provides treatment and support to people living with HIV.
“We’ve been involved with the fight against AIDS for more than 30 years now. We may have come a long way, but the fight is not over yet,” said Wendie Godbout, director of PR at Aldo Group. “We want to make sure that people are still aware. And we want to raise funds because money helps in supporting programs.”
Aldo first aligned with the AIDS cause in 1985, when it was taboo to speak about it, said Catherine Sabourin, marketing manager at Aldo Group. The company’s second major campaign launched in 2005, with the celebrity-endorsed “Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” campaign.
The #FriendsFight campaign will be promoted through social media, PR, out-of-home and print advertising. “What we’re really trying to do is push forward a social campaign,” said Sabourin. Aldo will use all of its social channels to promote the campaign, including Twitter (it has 75,000 followers) and its Facebook page, which has 1.3 million followers.
“We can reach all of those people, offering both our campaign [messaging] and user-generated images that people will actually start sharing, whether it’s an ‘arm party’ with the bracelets or their ‘friends fighting’ pose,” said Sabourin. “We’re going to share that information constantly through our channels.”
On the PR front, Aldo is mobilizing its PR agencies in the U.S., France and the U.K., as well as its Canadian agency Narrative PR to get the message out. It also hosted a kick-off party last week in New York “to make sure that we got the endorsement of top influencers and people with a lot of followers online,” said Godbout.
While AIDS isn’t as taboo as it was in the 80s, it’s also not top-of-mind as a cause nowadays. “It was that disease that everyone was so scared about,” said Godbout. “Now there is treatment, but that doesn’t mean it’s not something that we need to be careful about. The level of awareness is high… but I think people are not taking it as seriously as they should.”
To breakthrough in the media, Aldo is focusing its message on its history in the fight against AIDS and collaboration with Ahluwalia. “We have the history and the fact that we were there from the very beginning. It’s not just a trend, it’s something that we truly believe in,” said Godbout. “And the collaboration with Waris was really interesting from a fashion standpoint.”