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Our Five-Year Plan: An AIDS-Free Generation in 2015

Marking World AIDS Day, Converse Finds Synergy Working With (RED)

By Published on . 1

Geoff Cottrill
Geoff Cottrill
It's been almost five years since Converse joined (RED) when (RED) was just a new, crazy startup idea for getting a sustainable flow of money from business to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Since then, that crazy idea has turned into a real machine, sending more than $160 million to the Global Fund and helping to fund programs that have reached more than 5 million people affected by AIDS in Africa.

So it's safe to say the crazy idea is working.

Beyond the money that flows to the fund, the idea has also worked for our business. First and foremost, it has given great meaning to what we do every day. Our employees are engaged and motivated by the fact that their work is contributing to something much bigger.

To mark World AIDS Day, Converse is releasing the Damien Hirst for Converse (PRODUCT) RED Chuck Taylor All Star shoe. The company is contributing 100% of the net profit of this shoe to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
To mark World AIDS Day, Converse is releasing the Damien Hirst for Converse (PRODUCT) RED Chuck Taylor All Star shoe. The company is contributing 100% of the net profit of this shoe to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
It has also worked because there is so much synergy between our brands. It results in great things for our company and, ultimately, the cause. Creativity is at the core of Creativity is at the core of both brands, Converse and (RED). The Converse Chuck Taylor All Star shoe is one of pop culture's great blank canvases and has inspired generations of artists who have been scribbling on the Chuck Taylor shoe for decades.

Ever since people started writing on their Chuck Taylors, turning our shoes into their personal expression, creativity has driven this company. (RED) brings another layer to that for us. With (RED), we've brought more than 110 artist-, designer- and musician-collaboration projects to life—from The Edge to Lupe Fiasco to Terence Koh to Vena Cava to Damien Hirst—and held artist events around the world to raise awareness for the mission.

Today, as we mark our fifth World AIDS Day involved in this issue, I'm looking ahead and excited about the five-year plan. I'm not talking about the five-year "strategic" plan for Converse (although that is, of course, great), but about the five-year plan in the fight against AIDS.

Within five years, we are on track to achieve one of the most important goals in this historic battle: the possibility of delivering the first generation of babies born without HIV in nearly three decades.

That is an incredible thing to say—that, given that this disease has claimed the lives of more than 25 million people and, today, we still see more than 1,000 children born every day with the disease (90% of whom are in Africa, the region hit hardest by the disease), we can stop it in its tracks and start an entire generation on the path to living HIV-free.

With (RED), we're launching a new initiative called "The AIDS Free Generation Is Due in 2015" to raise awareness of this milestone and to get people involved to ensure that the focus and funding needed to achieve this goal are delivered.

At Converse, we're proud to be one part of this massive effort. While we're working on our five-year plan of making shoes you love and building an irresistible brand, we find great joy in knowing that it has much more meaning as it gives the kids of 2015, and all generations to follow, a healthy chance to be born HIV-free.

Learn more at www.joinred.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Geoff Cottrill is CMO at Converse.

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