What Do Fashion and a United Nations Hunger Program Have in Common?
About a decade ago, actress Halle Berry visited Jinotega, a region in Nicaragua. In video from the visit, Berry looked on as tidy rows of children filed into their village school, where they would be provided their single balanced meal of the day. The prospect of a hearty lunch encouraged their parents to send them to school, Berry said in the footage, even those parents who may have been reluctant.
She was acting as an emissary for Watch Hunger Stop, an initiative organized by designer Michael Kors in partnership with the United Nations World Food Program to provide meals to schools in developing regions around the world.
Kate Hudson joined the initiative in 2015 and made a field visit to Cambodia in 2017. She and Berry have since appeared in online campaign imagery, on television and in promotional videos for the program, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month.
“At the start, I wasn’t sure we would engage everyone,” Kors said in recent a phone conversation. “We thought that people would get bored.” But the campaign has prospered through sustained social media messaging and the sale of WHS special-edition apparel and accessories.
“A lot of people think that philanthropy is only for the rich,” Kors said. He has challenged that assumption, arguing that donations are well within the means of many of his followers. Citing a WFP figure, he stressed that $5, the price of a coffee in many large cities, could feed a child in school for a month.
Such messaging, most successful on the Michael Kors Instagram account, has been effective. Since 2013, Watch Hunger Stop has raised about $7.5 million, the equivalent of more than 30 million school meals (at about 25 cents per meal). The Michael Kors brand expects to donate an additional 3 million meals throughout the next campaign year, beginning in October, according to a spokesperson.
Certainly Michael Kors is not the first fashion brand to embrace the power of positive public relations. Ralph Lauren, Asos, H&M and Tiffany & Co., among others, have stepped up their support of philanthropic initiatives in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Watch Hunger Stop may or may not boost brand recognition worldwide. “But it absolutely allows people to know the values of the brand they are aligning with,” Kors said.
文／Ruth La Ferla 譯／周辰陽