Big brands and social change

How Levi's could change the world
Anthony Samuel.jpg

Dr Anthony Samuel, Course Leader for BA (Hons) Marketing, and Matthew Norris, a University of South Wales BA (Hons) Marketing and MBA graduate, presented a paper at the 40th Macromarketing Conference at Loyola University Chicago’s Quinlan School of Business.

Written by Dr Anthony Samuel, Dan Taylor, Matthew Norris and Keijo Raiha, the paper was titled “Levi’s, Tightening the Authenticity of Corporate Social Responsibility with a Rust Belt”.

Their work was sparked by an intriguing and original corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign titled ‘Go Forth’ that was launched by the global denim brand Levi’s in 2010. One of the aims of this campaign was to bring a level of social equality and economic prosperity back to the small town of Braddock, Pennsylvania in the USA.

The campaign was launched when a partnership was forged between town Mayor John Fetterman and Levi’s, allowing a wave of economic investment to flow through the steel town of Braddock, which had experienced a decline in its industries because of global recession. The campaign was used to rejuvenate and inspire the community through a series of grassroots projects.

Recognising the social value and universal impact this campaign could have on the wider market, it was important to unravel the effect this campaign might have on how we view CSR and measure its authenticity.

Anthony Samuels and Dan Taylor wanted to expand the initial concept. They enlisted the help of Matthew Norris and MSc Marketing student, Keijo Raiha, who were keen to see this unique campaign further researched to bring out the benefits and challenges of combining big brands and social change.

The 40th Macromarketing Conference was the obvious place to test their ideas and was an opportunity to disseminate the rich information they found. The diverse city of Chicago was the perfect backdrop for gauging the trends of a contemporary CSR campaign. The result was a successfully delivered and well received presentation to leaders from several continents, all with an unprecedented passion for empowering the world through smarter and better ways of marketing.

Speaking about his experiences, Matthew Norris said: “The opportunity to write at a high level with my colleague and senior lecturers was incredible. We all started out with a goal to get the paper published; then to have it recognised on an international scale was amazing. The chance to convert those long hours researching and writing into a presentation which was delivered to academics from across the globe in a world-class city was something a university student can only dream of.”