American Marketer


Michael Kors taps goodwill in World Food Programme partnership

January 31, 2013


U.S. apparel and accessories label Michael Kors is upping its philanthropic portfolio through a long-term partnership with the United Nations’ World Food Programme to help put an end to world hunger.

The brand is pushing the partnership and encouraging donations through a PSA that was released on its social media channels and its Destination Kors’ Web site. The PSA includes messages from notable celebrities who support the cause including Bette Midler, Seth Myers, Olivia Munn, Patti Hansen and Karolína Kurková.

“The strategy for such philanthropic partnerships as the one between Michael Kors and the United Nations is typically based on a desire to create positive media coverage, material for content and communications through various channels to followers of the brand and good morale among employees,” said Ron Kurtz, president of the American Affluence Research Center, Atlanta.

“A partnership with a philanthropic organization adds value to a luxury brand by creating a positive halo around the brand that is derived from showing the brand’s sensitivity to world problems and its generosity in addressing the problems,” he said.

Mr. Kurtz is not affiliated with Michael Kors, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Michael Kors was not able to comment directly.

Watch hunger stop

The 40-second PSA shows designer Michael Kors and other celebrities stating facts about the world hunger problem.

The video starts off with Mr. Kors saying that one in eight people around the world go to bed hungry every night.

Michael Kors PSA

Notable celebrities join in by reciting other facts about world hunger, “the world’s most solvable problem.”

Mr. Kors also has the last word and asks viewers to join him watch hunger stop, as the hashtag #WatchHungerStop is shown on the screen.

Michael Kors watch hunger stop PSA

In addition to the PSA, the brand is also pushing donations through SMS. Mobile users in the United States can text “MKHUNGER” to 50555 to donate $5 to the World Food Program USA.

The brand mentioned the donations and the PSA on its Facebook page and Twitter account.

Michael Kors tweet

Committed to giving back

This effort is not the first time Michael Kors has partnered with philanthropic organizations.

For instance, the brand allowed its employees to volunteer for New York-based nonprofit God’s Love We Deliver during business hours to back the designer’s more than 20 years of support for the organization.

God’s Love We Deliver named July “Michael Kors Month” and honored the designer at its awards dinner in October due to the increased volunteer efforts from the label.

Each of Michael Kors’ 400 employees can volunteer at the New York headquarters of God’s Love We Deliver during the workday to help prepare healthy meals that the organization delivers to people living with life-threatening illnesses (see story).

In addition, Michael Kors donated $1 million to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund to aid in Superstorm Sandy cleanup and showed leadership at a time of hardship for many consumers living on the East Coast.

Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and other luxury marketers announced their Sandy donations through social media, while encouraging consumers to make contributions to the American Red Cross as well. The Michael Kors announcement on Facebook, for instance, gained more than 16,000 “likes” (see story).

Many luxury marketers are sure to make philanthropy part of their brand’s mission, since having a partnership with a philanthropic organization can add value to the brand by showing off its generosity and positive actions.

“Almost all brands of prominence have various philanthropic programs to which they commit resources of time and money,” Mr. Kurtz said.

Final take

Erin Shea, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York