COVID + Cause Marketing: How This Retail Group United For Good

For VF Corporation, a global apparel and footwear company with 12 unique brands, marketing takes many forms. But thanks to their shared purpose, The VF Foundation, VF Corporation, and its family of brands like Dickies®, The North Face®, Smartwool®, and Timberland® united to fundraise for COVID-19 relief efforts.



Give consumers the opportunity to help during a global pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has upturned lives everywhere. At many retail companies, employees were grappling with the concern that they might lose their jobs amid slow or no foot traffic to stores and supply chain disruptions. VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest apparel and footwear companies, eliminated this fear by continuing to pay its retail employees in North America even while stores were closed. In Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, government programs helped protect employee pay. Meanwhile, VF’s CEO and executives took 50% and 25% salary reductions, respectively.

These people-first leadership decisions let VF and its brands think about how to serve others. It helped that in the past few years, the company had been intensifying its commitment to “bettering people and our planet.”

VF’s brands practiced this principle by donating products and offering discounts to frontline workers, manufacturing personal protective equipment, and supporting small retail businesses. But the biggest assets of any brand are its name, reputation, and community. With this in mind, VF’s philanthropic arm, The VF Foundation, launched an enterprise-wide COVID-19 relief effort that leveraged the synergies of the corporation, the foundation, and the VF family of brands through an array of cause marketing activations.


Unique brand activations for a unified response

At a company with more than 12 apparel brands, one size does not fit all.

“While we’re all united under one purpose, how we bring the purpose to life is very individual,” said Gloria Schoch, director of The VF Foundation and Global Impact.

With custom-tailored social impact initiatives, The VF Foundation was able to help engage each brand’s audience authentically.

Smartwool launched a buy-one-give-one campaign. The North Face brand partnered with Supreme on an exclusive limited-edition T-shirt sale. The Timberland and icebreaker brands launched mega social media campaigns. Each effort was designed to both connect with the respective brand’s consumers in a meaningful way and scale the social impact.

The VF Foundation also made commitments, starting with a $200,000 grant for relief efforts in Bangladesh, India, and Cambodia. They wanted to support the communities that are home to many of the workers who make their products.

“These workers live in some of the most vulnerable countries in the world,” said Schoch. “We knew, working together, our collective funds could have a tremendous positive impact for people who had limited access to support.”

All this was achieved rapidly to reflect the growing need for a global COVID-19 response. Part of what made VF’s unified approach possible was its collaboration with GlobalGiving. The VF brands were able to support efforts around the world, launch giving pages in a matter of hours, and even receive help to identify charitable projects that aligned with their philanthropic goals.

We value our partnership with GlobalGiving. We get guidance, collaboration, and thought partnership. We can trust the organizations we give to with GlobalGiving’s vetting support. Thanks to GlobalGiving’s footprint around the world, we can better help the communities in which we do business.
— Gloria Schoch


Unprecedented success from combined efforts

Thanks to the efforts of these brands and the support of thousands of consumers, VF, The VF Foundation, and the VF brands have provided more than $2 million in COVID-19 relief support, including more than $750,000 in partnership with GlobalGiving for COVID-19 relief through cause marketing.

Some brands blew away expectations. The running shoe brand, Altra, one of VF’s smaller brands, raised $120,000, thanks to their percentage-of-sales cause marketing campaign. For a limited time, they donated 10% of the proceeds from sales of a top-selling road running shoe.

The pandemic has highlighted the purpose that unites VF and its brands.

“We are more than an apparel company. We are an enterprise of people who are committed to making a positive impact for people and the planet,” Schoch said. “We see it as both our responsibility and opportunity to be a force for good in this world.”

Launching a global cause marketing campaign? GlobalGiving makes it easy.


Featured Photo: Sewing machines for girls for self-reliance by Azad India Foundation.

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