As a multiple Grammy Award-winning musician, record producer and philanthropist, Pharrell Williams needs very little introduction. He’s known for his Midas touch – everything he lends his talent to tends to go gold, if not platinum. He’s been credited with reviving stale careers and is known for his own thriving ability to make music in the tradition of the maverick – by doing things his own way. But he’s also known for his ideas, and for championing independence of thought. His personal cause – “I Am Other” – is all about celebrating the individual, embracing what makes you different and defying stereotypes.
Now, the global hitmaker has signed up to partner with Woolworths on its Good Business Journey to bring attention to its mission to become the most sustainable retailer in the Southern Hemisphere.
We want him to help us make sustainability cool, says Ian Moir, CEO of Woolworths.
It’s a match made in heaven, for the sake of the earth. The strategic collaboration is the first of its kind for a South African retailer, and it will see Williams and the business align their values and actions to make a difference in the lives of people, and the planet.
“Pharrell is a global icon for social cohesion, advancement through education and environmental awareness – these same values lie at the heart of our business and form the foundation on which this partnership is built. We hope Pharrell will help us make sustainability cool for the next generation of South Africans and help us create a better future for our children, our country and our planet,” says Moir.
Fashion is important to Pharrell, and he’s known as a rule-breaker and a rebel when it comes to style. But style is not just a word that applies to fashion – it’s a way of doing things. This is why Williams has been appointed “style director” across a number of projects that he’ll be collaborating with the retailer on, including a charity drive to raise funds for education, a range of sustainable T-shirts as well as a schools singing competition. While the projects are diverse, the aim is singleminded: it’s all about making a difference.
LIMITED EDITION RANGE OF SUSTAINABLE T-SHIRTS
As a partner in the green textile firm Bionic Yarn, it made sense for Woolies to collaborate on a product range. Enter the range of sustainable tees that will be produced and sold in stores later in the year. But in true Williams style, he’s inviting young South African creatives to get involved in helping design the shirts. Design students across the country are invited to submit designs and stand a chance to have theirs printed as part of the Bionic Yarn limited edition range. Pharrell will choose the winning designs, and those whose shirts go into production will also receive R25 000 prize money.
We want to bring everyone together who cares about making a difference, says Williams.
"Woolworths… is a global blueprint for how good business should do good business,” says Williams. Of course, the collaboration wouldn’t have Williams’ mark on it if there wasn’t a musical aspect to it.
HELPING SOUTH AFRICAN KIDS GET A BETTER EDUCATION
Because his mother was a school teacher and he’s credited much of his success to dedicated mentors, education has always been close to Pharrell’s heart. Along with MySchool, which donates a percentage of Woolies’ sales to charities in South Africa, Pharrell will be asking customers to swipe their cards to raise R100 million for education. MySchool helps raise money for books and stationery, better facilities and so much more.
This aids the promise of a bright new generation of educated kids. Everyone can get involved. The way it works is you simply need to register your existing MySchool card on the Woolworths website, and then swipe it every time you shop.
Each swipe sends a percentage of your total shopping sales to a school of your choice. Every single school in South Africa can benefit – you simply fill in which school you wish to receive your donations. To date, MySchool has raised over R 269 826 465.18 for its beneficiaries.
NATION-WIDE SCHOOLS SINGING COMPETITION
“Happy” was the hit Pharrell unleashed into the world in late 2013, not realising it was going to become one of the most played songs of 2014 – if not the decade, prompting a tsunami-sized wave of tributes and responses from all over the globe. So it would be fair to say that Williams has a way with chords as well as words – and it seems fitting then that a musical collaboration be in the works. School singing groups around the country are invited to compete to win the chance to perform live with Pharrell during the private concert that will be held exclusively for WRewards Members.
SEE PHARRELL LIVE AT A ONE-NIGHT-ONLY EXCLUSIVE EVENT
If you don’t have a Woolies Store Card, now’s the time to get one. Because the only way to get a ticket to the exclusive Pharrell concert happening in September is by swiping your store card whenever you shop at Woolies. You not only get WRewards Instant Savings, but every item purchased acts as another entry, even if you only do one swipe per shop. So the more you buy, the more chances you get to win.
ON A JOURNEY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The Woolworths Good Business Journey (GBJ) is the driving force behind the partnership between Williams and Woolies. Launched in 2007, Woolies’ GBJ is a commitment to ethical trade, sustainable farming and production methods, and social responsibility. The call-to-action for the collaboration is “Are you with us?” and it asks customers to pledge their allegiance and support for the Woolworths Good Business Journey.
For more details, watch the press and go to woolworths.co.za/areyouwithus to link your cards or sign up for a new one.
STATEMENT FROM PHARRELL WILLIAMS:
We’re on a mission to change the world.
To make a difference wherever we can.
Earlier this year at Davos, we announced the launch of ‘Harmonising Humanity’.
To call together everyone around the world who believes that a better tomorrow is possible when we all do our part.
For those who believe in clean lakes, rivers and oceans - who care where their products come from - and who are giving to make sure every kid gets the best shot at a great education.
This is very near to my heart.
We want to bring together everyone who cares about making a difference.
They are a global blueprint for how good businesses should do good business.
Today we are announcing a new collaboration.
To work together to uplift education in South Africa.
For food farming that goes easy on the planet.
And to create fashion that is not just cool, but also sustainable.
So, join me and Woolworths on this journey to make a difference.
South Africa, are you with us?