Timberland Co. has been on a mission to change the world for years, but now it’s adding some star power to its quest. The shoe company has teamed with musician/activist Wyclef Jean on a multipronged initiative that kicked off last Thursday with a concert in New York. The partnership aims to raise funds for Jean’s Yéle Haiti organization, which works to transform the country through education, art and environmental programs (hence the tie-in with eco-conscious Timberland). In addition to creating merchandise with Jean and linking marketing and social networking efforts, executives from Timberland will travel to Haiti in May to plant a tree nursery. Jeff Swartz, president and CEO of Timberland, told MediaBank Jean was the perfect addition to his firm’s Earthkeeper Heroes project. “Wyclef is a genuine social changer who happens to be a celebrity. Even before he was famous, he was all about responsibility to his world.” For Timberland, the partnership also opens up communication with a new audience. “Being connected to the strength of young people is vital to someone in our space,” said Swartz. “You could have [the best product out there], but if you don’t have that emotional resonance, you’re just a shoe brand.” The CEO suggested more famous partners could be in the cards for Timberland, but only if they have the right pedigree.
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