Finweek English Edition - - Communication & Technology - POLOKO MO­FO­KENG

LEVI’S, the quintessen­tially Amer­i­can jeans brand, has carved out a South African iden­tity with its so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity cam­paign called Red for Life and its uniquely South African­shaped Eva range of cloth­ing.

From the new-age pantsula to your su­per laid-back guy with spiky hair, South African sub­cul­tures have adapted Levi jeans to re­flect their lifestyles, mak­ing an im­pact sim­i­lar to that of Con­verse. There’s even a re­verse cul­tural in­va­sion go­ing on: the home-grown Eva range – specif­i­cally de­signed for more volup­tuous (bighipped) lo­cal fig­ures – has started to make its mark in the US.

The SA vibe is con­tin­ued with the Red for Life cam­paign. “We felt HIV was the sin­gle big­gest is­sue fac­ing our core mar­ket and lend­ing our brand to the cause could help de-stig­ma­tise it,” says Levi mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor Debbie Geb­hardt. “We en­cour­age reg­u­lar test­ing and have tested just over 100 000 youngsters – dou­ble the na­tional av­er­age.”

Now in its fourth year, the cam­paign is ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated at ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions as it cul­mi­nates in a mu­sic con­cert – Rage for the Revo­lu­tion. “Test­ing cen­tres are open through­out the year, with mo­bile units used at cam­puses dur­ing the cam­paign.”

Per­form­ers also ful­fil an ed­u­ca­tional role about HIV, while Levi’s pro­motes up-and-com­ing mu­si­cians as part of its lo­cal mu­sic pro­gramme. But it’s let down by a web­site that gives the im­pres­sion it fosters only one genre of mu­sic – un­like Rage for the Revo­lu­tion, which in­cor­po­rates di­verse youth cul­tures.

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