Aldo: The Stylish Crusader

From four locations founded by CEO Aldo Bensadoun in 1972, the Montreal-based shoe and accessories retailer now boasts 600 stores in over 30 countries. With slick campaigns that speak to its strong youth consumer base, Aldo used its weight to convincingly herald a cause that was no longer top of mind.

From four locations founded by CEO Aldo Bensadoun in 1972, the Montreal-based shoe and accessories retailer now boasts 600 stores in over 30 countries. With slick campaigns that speak to its strong youth consumer base, Aldo used its weight to convincingly herald a cause that was no longer top of mind.

Inspiration

In 2006, the brand launched ‘Aldo Fights AIDS,’ an awareness and fundraising campaign. It was meant not only to support education and protection programs globally, but to leverage the brand’s creative, financial and human resources to publicize the growing complacency surrounding AIDS.

The campaign, led by GM, branding and strategic development Robert Hoppenheim, was directed primarily at youth, a target represented by both Aldo customers and associates. It clearly reflected the values of the company (love, integrity, respect) and the needs of the consumer (being an active part of positive social change).

Execution/marketing

Partnering with YouthAIDS, a non-profit education and prevention organization that funds youth programs around the world, the main objective was to create a campaign that would break through the clutter and reach youth.

It was to also address the complacency surrounding AIDS: the fact that people were no longer speaking about it, hearing the facts or seeing its reality, despite the growing number of youth globally being infected with HIV or affected by it.

The three main criteria:

• Be easily identifiable

The concept centred on the theme ‘Hear no evil, See no evil, Speak no evil.’

• Use bold imagery

Over 30 top international celebrities were recruited to take part in the ads. Of different genres and races, the mix spoke to different groups of young people throughout the world. Renowned fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh snapped the photos.

Dog tags dubbed ‘empowerment tags’ to be worn on the wrist or around the neck with the words ‘Hear,’ ‘Speak’ or ‘See’ were sold for $5 at Aldo stores and online at youthaids-aldo.org. One hundred percent of net proceeds went to support YouthAIDS.

• Create an integrated communications strategy

The brand’s entire marketing budget supported the campaign by New York-based Kraftworks, and used all of its media channels. A global OOH media strategy included billboards and transit shelters. Print covered fashion, lifestyle and music magazines. In-store, celebrities visited and local events were held. Online marketing was anchored by the youthaids-aldo.org website.

Results

The PR strategy generated billions of impressions globally ranging from Entertainment Tonight to Fox News and Glamour UK. The story was also picked up in countries without stores including German and Japanese TV and Latin American newspapers.

Further example of its reach: The campaign was recently launched in Central America (where there are no stores) with the sale of close to 50,000 tags in Honduras (donated by the brand) through a local chain of coffee shops. All proceeds will go to fund the area’s YouthAIDS programs. Social groups, health organizations, universities and high school teachers have contacted the brand wanting materials to run the ads in their communities, such as an aboriginal group in western Canada.

Over 850,000 tags have been sold. In one year, over $3 million was generated to support programs in countries such as Rwanda, India, Uganda, Guatemala and South Africa. The brand plans an evolution of the campaign in the near future.

Aldo Fights AIDS stood out for me for three reasons: its boldness, its strategic fit and its demonstration of corporate cause commitment. Youth and AIDS isn’t something very many companies would take on.

Tracey Rees, Manifest Communications