Editor’s Note: This post is the fifth in a new series highlighting cause marketing campaigns from around the world called ‘Global Voices’. We hope our team of international contributors will shed insights into cause marketing in their home country and inspire you to expand your own purpose-driven horizons.
Thoughts of Brazil invariably include its tropical climate and the lush beauty of its forests and animals. Harbouring some of the greatest biodiversity in the world, the country is in increasing need of action to conserve its natural heritage. To this end, the partnership between shoe-maker Havaianas* and IPE – Institute for Ecological Research** uses a typical Brazilian sandal as a defender of nature.
IPE-branded Havaianas are rubber sandals featuring images of Brazilian wildlife. Many of these are endangered species researched at the Institute. For each sandal sold, 7% of the net profit is donated to IPE’s conservation endowment fund. In addition to its financial function, the product is also a vehicle for environmental education. Through the sandals, consumers (particularly Brazilians) become aware of species that exist only in Brazil. The aim is to convey “ownership” of the country’s biodiversity so that Brazilian society increasingly supports its conservation. The soles of each pair of sandals contain the animals’ images, their scientific names and information about their habitat.
The partnership between the Institute and the company began in 2004 with a collection illustrated with manatees, black-faced lion tamarins and red-tailed Amazon parrots. Havaianas saw the importance of associating its image with an award-winning environmental charity. The synergy of values etween the company and the Institute was immediate. Together, the organizations decided on a product line that would enable consumers to buy a sandal associated with a national symbol. The collection was renewed the following year with new species and the launch of a children’s line, a consumer request.
The development of each product collection , as well as communication strategies, are planned jointly between IPE and Havaianas. IPE staff are tasked with the scientific and technical content, whilst the company promotes the collection. No text or advertising is disseminated without the consent of both parties. Moreover, there is always concern about the transparency of information that reaches the public, such as the percentage reverted to IPE and what is done with the proceeds from the partnership.
The partnership is now in its ninth collection. Through 2012, it sold more than eight million pairs of sandals and contributed over 4 million dollars to IPE’s institutional fund.
In addition to contributions to its conservation fund, IPE gains national visibility, an important consideration because the Institute was previously more known in scientific and academic circles. This, in turn, generated new partnerships with additional private companies. For Havaianas, this extremely popular product was a means of disseminating the organization’s name and the cause of Brazilian biodiversity.
*”Havaianas” is a genuinely Brazilian company and the most popular brand of Alpargatas São Paulo, a national corporation that completed its 105 anniversary in 2012. Alpargatas São Paulo directly employs 10,000 people. Havaianas sandals were launched in the Brazilian market in 1962 at a very affordable price and quickly became popular with the domestic market. Through strong communications campaigns, the brand eventually became synonymous with flip-flops and a symbol of Brazil. In the past three years, the brand has surpassed 150 million pairs sold and today is present in 80 countries.
**IPE – Institute for Ecological Research, founded more than 20 years ago, is one of the largest environmental organizations in Brazil. The institute’s mission is to develop and disseminate innovative models that promote biodiversity conservation and socioeconomic benefits through science, education and sustainable business. To this end, the Institute’s staff research more than 15 fauna species, work in forest restoration projects (we have already planted more than 2 million native trees), and develop education and conservation programs that reach about 10,000 people each year.