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Jones Apparel Group, Inc. has survived in the cutthroat world of fashion by keeping a laser-sharp focus on the preferences of its well-heeled audience. Hems at the knee? Shoulder pads out? Pink as the new neutral? JAG gets it, and probably a full season before its ready-to-wear competitors.
But successful brands go further than tweaking their merchandise, and continually look for ways to increase their relevance for consumers. In June 2004, JAG began tracking concerns beyond hemlines, with an eye to impacting the very fabric of its consumers’ and employees’ lives. Through surveys of the two groups, the company learned that each shared a top priority: children and education.
Within months, Jones had constructed its first corporate-wide philanthropic campaign, Jones New York In the Classroom. The four-tiered program, backed by a $1 million grant, aims to improve the quality of education by supporting teachers via fundraisers, partnerships and in-school activities.
“We exist for our consumers,” says Stacy Lastrina, senior VP-creative services, Jones Apparel Group. “They led us to [the education cause]. Consumers want to do more, but don’t always have the time. This gives them an opportunity to get involved.”
JAG’s initial grant will benefit four teachers’ organizations and address specific challenges within the profession: recruitment, retention, professional development, and recognition and support. By supporting teachers, the benefits will reach children, Lastrina says.
“Teachers are the single most important factor in student achievement, yet there are very few programs for [them],” Lastrina says. “We want teachers to know there are resources out there and that teachers count.”
New York City-based marketing consulting firm The Leverage Group helped launch the program for JAG.
“Our research showed that employees and consumers are tremendously motivated by causes that address the needs of children,” says Dana DiPrima, executive VP of The Leverage Group. “Removing barriers to education was a critical concern.”
According to the In the Classroom Web site, between 30% to 50% of teachers leave the profession within three to five years. By 2010, the nation will need 2.2 million to 2.4 million teachers to fill the growing need.
The need recognized, JAG and Leverage then decided where to focus support. Following interviews with educators, administrators and agencies, they winnowed choices from more than 75 non-profit teacher organizations to four:
TeachersCount, a national organization that offers free teacher support services, resources and information.
New Teacher Academy, a support program for first-year teachers.
Fund For Teachers, a grant-giving organization that supports teachers’ summer professional development.
Adopt-A-Classroom, a national organization that links individuals and businesses to classroom needs.
JAG launched In the Classroom on May 2 by ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange and handing out apples and hats to traders. The following day (May 3 — National Teacher’s Day), it kicked off globally via print ads and a guerilla marketing effort, as teachers and students rallied outside The Today Show in New York City.
Since then, JAG has adopted more than 100 classrooms; some 3,000 more teachers have registered to have their classrooms adopted; more than 80 teachers earned summer sabbaticals and more than 100 teachers have engaged in New Teacher Academy.
JAG is extending participation to its 7,000 corporate employees, offering three hours of paid time-off each month so staff can support the campaign. Some employees spend that time organizing activities for adopted classrooms.
Other employees across 23 JAG locations are organizing independent fund-raisers (think craft sales and bake sales), raising between $500 to $2,500 per event for the campaign, says Amy Rapawy, VP-marketing, Jones New York.
“Our associates led us to this cause,” she says. “It’s something they feel passionate about. The entrepreneurial spirit has really taken over.”
In addition, JAG is giving makeovers this month to teachers and their classrooms – complete with a Jones New York wardrobe – in five regions via its Back to School, Back to Style program. The June isssue of O magazine encouraged shoppers to nominate teachers online. Other partners include The Home Depot, Lane Furniture and Hancock Fabrics. Celebrity designer Laurie Smith from TLC’s Trading Spaces assists, adding trademark style to each classroom.
The program hits retail this fall, when JAG launches a dedicated Shop For Education Week from Oct. 15-22 in more than 250 Macy’s East, Macy’s West, Hechts and Carson Pirie Scott stores. Ten percent of the proceeds of JAG merchandise sales (up to $500,000) will go toward the cause. Consumers may treat themselves to mini-manicures or massages in the “teacher’s lounge” or samples goodies during “recess.” More than 60 teachers from area schools will participate in runway shows in the five markets and model Jones apparel. “We are putting [teachers] on the runway and treating them like the models they are,” Rapawy says.
For Macy’s, the partnership with JAG was a no-brainer, says Martine Reardon, executive VP-marketing for Macy’s. “Education was easy…for me to say ‘yes’ to. Children are very, very important to [what] Macy’s is about and what we want to support. It’s not about a sales generating idea. It’s more about giving back to the community in which we live.”
The retailer’s role could grow in future years, Reardon says.
“Anything we’ve ever done with Jones has always been a success for us,” she says. “We feel good there is potential for us to grow.”
The appeal extends to other retail partners. Gift retailer The Fruit Co. is assembling specially designed In The Classroom watercolor art boxes. “We really feel a special tie to this program,” says Scott Weber, president of The Fruit Co. “It’s great to be associated with Jones New York In The Classroom and the cause of helping education.”
The Fruit Co. plans to donate 20% of its gift sales used with the promotional code JYNYCLASS toward In the Classroom. The Hood River, OR-based company hopes to raise $1 million by year’s end.
Online, consumers can purchase apple car magnets (similar to the magnets that support U.S. military troops) branded with “Support America’s Teachers” via www.jnyintheclassroom.org for $3 each, plus shipping.
“It’s a call to action,” DiPrima says. “What better real estate than the back of your car to show your support for teachers?””
Umm, maybe your chest? JAG will offer this fall a limited edition T-shirt created by New York City artist Ryan McGinness. The T-shirts will sell for under $20 at select Macy’s and other department stores, as well as 102 Jones New York outlets.
The Classroom initiative coincides with a pivotal time in JAG’s market positioning. Though it reported a nine-cent decline in earnings per share to $2.39 in 2004, JAG revenues rose 6.8% last year to $4.7 billion from $4.4 billion, largely due to the 2004 acquisitions of Barney’s and Maxwell Stores.
A philanthropic cause like In The Classroom, especially in partnership with Macy’s, makes sense, says Marie Driscoll, investment officer for New York City-based Standard & Poor’s Equity. Federated Department Stores, owner of Macy’s, accounted for 12% of JAG’s sales last year, she says. While the campaign itself won’t result in a big financial boost for JAG, it may yield a positive impact on the brand over the long term to increase its pricing and position, Driscoll says.
“It makes strategic sense to do this,” she says. “It’s a grassroots effort to connect with people and bring awareness to the fact that this is a valid cause. It’s a plus.”
In the Classroom isn’t JAG’s first grassroots foray. In 2003, it kicked off its Life Speaker Series and Wardrobe Seminars. The program, which included trunk shows, offered lectures on financial success, health, nutrition, stress and time management to women working in Fortune 500 companies. Boston-based Arnold Brand Promotions handled.
The brand reached more than 100 companies. Trunk show proceeds benefited the Women’s Alliance, a national organization that provides clothing, career skills training and other services to low-income women seeking employment.
“Jones really looks to what is important in women’s lives,” says Michael Carey, VP-group account director for Arnold. “They know what is important to those people aside from clothing. They look at what is important to consumers from a personal perspective to make that personal touch with someone.”
The women behind Jones New York Inside the Classroom are in full agreement.
“The goal is not to lift sales, but to make a difference and add value to the brand,” Rapawy says.
“Anyone who thinks a company initiating a cause marketing campaign is doing it to ring their registers is completely mistaken,” Lastrina says. “It will not get consumers to purchase a brand they do not already have an affinity for. It’s about extending the relationship.”
“This is just the beginning,” DiPrima promises.
JAG execs get immersed in the cause
How to get employees to really back a fundraiser? Promise to get corporate bigwigs to provide sweat equity – literally! When Ellen Bowen, director of organizational development for Jones Apparel Group’s division Nine West Footwear, suggested company leaders wash employees’ cars raise money for In the Classroom, the response was overwhelming.
“It’s a fun way to turn the tables,” Bowen says. “The entire company embraced the idea.”
Sixteen division presidents and VPs rolled up their sleeves July 18 for the Get Washed Nine West Footwear Corp. Presidential Car Wash. For $10, employees received a car wash from the president or VP of their choice and an In the Classroom car magnet.
In all, more than 80 employees signed up for the event. The car wash raised over $2,000.
With corporate employees in the cause, Jones Apparel Group can “move the needle” and make a difference in teachers’ lives, Bowen says.
“Many of us are working women with children,” she says. “To have a cause that is close to home for us is really important. It is unique for a corporation to say, ‘We want you to volunteer.’ It sort of promotes a better balance in our lives. It’s a wonderful thing.” – AJ
Brands make the grade by helping schools
Other brands have recognized the importance of teachers and education via various marketing inititatives. Washington Mutual Bank rewarded teachers for their excellence with tickets to a Broadway show – 28,000 Saturday matinees to be exact. To celebrate its 2002 entry into New York City, Washington Mutual exhausted the supply of Broadway tickets and gave them to 14,000 teachers who were nominated by students and parents. In addition to the free show, teachers were treated to a pre-curtain rally in Times Square lauding teachers. The reward was part of Washington Mutual’s Spotlight on Teachers campaign, which won Best Overall and Best Idea or Concept in PROMO’s 2003 PRO Awards. Now in its sixth year, Delray Beach, FL-based Office Depot Inc. is renewing its 5% Back to Schools program, which offers schools the chance to earn free school supplies during the year. Under the program, shoppers select a school to receive a 5% credit for qualifying school supply purchases. Since its inception, Office Depot has awarded $10 million to more than 36,000 schools in the U.S. and Canada.In addition to the 5% Back to Schools program, the company runs a backpack donation program, in which each store donates backpacks to schools and associations to help underprivileged kids in their area.“Our focus is on children,” says Mary Wong, director of community relations for Office Depot. “There isn’t going to be a future without them.” That’s not all. Office Depot stores across the U.S. and Canada are hosting their 12th annual Teacher Appreciation Breakfasts to give area teachers an occasion to network and prepare for the upcoming school year. The program, designed to recognize and honor teachers for their work and thank them for their commitment to children, runs through Aug. 27. Teachers and administrators can visit www.school.com to learn about this year’s list of scheduled breakfasts. More than 100,000 teachers and administrators participated in the program last year. – Amy Johannes
NEW YORK – Having dressed countless teachers in classic tweeds and comfortable shoes, Jones Apparel Group is now reaching out to give them a helping hand.
The company next month will launch Jones New York in the Classroom, a multifaceted cause-marketing effort to improve the quality of education in the U.S.
“As diverse and as fragmented as women are, they stand unified in one area, and that is children,” said Stacy Lastrina, senior vice president of marketing.
Jones, purveyor of Jones New York and other brands as well as owner of Barneys New York, is using its status as one of fashion’s best-known companies to support teachers through the non-profit organizations TeachersCount, New Teacher Academy, Fund for Teachers and Adopt-A-Classroom.
“We’re hoping it starts to build momentum and takes on a life of its own,” said Lastrina.
The need for such a program is great, she said. Some 2.3 million new teachers will be needed in the U.S. by 2010, but the profession is not a top career choice and loses 30 to 50 percent of its entrants in three to five years. Additionally, teachers spend an average of $589 of their own money to ready their classrooms.
The program’s apple logo will be featured in Jones New York’s national advertising, and up to $500,000 of the brand’s sales during the first week of October will be donated to the four non-profit organizations.
Jones will also hold events, such as runway shows featuring teachers as models, to support the ongoing initiative.
The company polled its employees and consumers to come up with a cause that resonated with both groups. Education is also an area near and dear to Jones chief executive officer Peter Boneparth, who is an active guest lecturer at business schools, and who has said he might go into teaching if he should ever choose to leave fashion. On April 15, Boneparth was principal for the day at the Global Enterprise Academy in the Bronx.
To celebrate the new program, the ceo will ring the closing bell on the New York Stock Exchange May2, the day before National Teacher Day.
Fund for Teachers recently recognized its 2005 fellows at a special award ceremony at the Intercontinental Hotel.
Business leaders from around the city have joined forces to participate in the newly formed Houston Leadership Committee raising money for the Fund for Teachers Houston 2005-2006 campaign. Funds raised will be used to permanently endow summer sabbaticals for Houston-area teachers.
FFT grants will be awarded to teachers who work with students in grades K-12 and have a minimum of three years teaching experience. Participants will be selected based on how their summer fellowship will make the applicant a better teacher, how improved skills and capacity will be implemented in the classroom and how the teachers’ improved skills or capacity will benefit students, curricula and the school.
Founded by Apache Corp. Chairman Raymond Plank, the foundation’s enrichment fund is supported by individual and corporate donors.
Houston – The Houston business community is in a great position to give back to Houston-area teachers. Business leaders from around the city have joined forces to actively participate in the newly formed Houston Leadership Committee raising money for the Fund for Teachers (FFT) Houston 2005-2006 campaign. Funds raised will be used to permanently endow summer sabbaticals for Houston-area teachers. Bob Peebler, CEO and President of Input/Output and this year’s Campaign Chair recently said in regards to the 2004-05 Houston based Fund for Teachers campaign, titled Energy for Teachers “Since the fund was originally launched as Energy for Teachers, we have work to do to educate other businesses in Houston of the value of the Fund. It’s important that this year we increase the participation of oil companies verses mainly the energy service sector; we want to expand our participation to the non-energy sectors of Houston. I’m confident that we can expand outside of the energy sector, even though it will continue to be a significant target for our funding.” Adding to that, second year steering committee member Kurt Hoffman, Vice President of Marketing at Noble Drilling, said “This year we are looking forward to targeting a broader scope of area businesses in an effort to increase our fundraising potential which will in turn benefit a greater number of educators.”
Houston Leadership committee members for the 2005-06 Fund for Teachers endowment campaign include: Campaign Chair – President and CEO of Input/Output, Bob Peebler, Gala Chair President, Senior Vice President, Global Operations, Energy Service Group of Halliburton Company, David King; CEO and COO of Apache Corporation, G. Steven Farris; President and COO of Nabors Industries Ltd., Tony Petrello; President and CEO of Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Jim Hackett; Vice President of Marketing of Noble Corporation, Kurt Hoffman; Chairman and CEO of Noble Corporation, James C. Day; Managing Partner with Baker Botts LLP, Walt Smith; Managing Director of RBC Capital Markets, Linda Stephens; President, North and South America for Schlumberger, Oilfield Services, John Yearwood and Chairman and CEO of National Oilwell, Peter Miller.
FFT is a unique public foundation whose mission is to enrich the lives of school teachers and students by providing outstanding teachers with recognition and opportunities for renewal. FFT provide funds for direct grants to teachers to support learning opportunities of their own design. It is estimated that the grant reaches 3,000 students over a span of a teacher’s career.
Fund For Teachers provides funds for direct grants to teachers to support learning opportunities. Kurt Hoffman, vice president of marketing for Nobel Corporation, Linda Stephens, managing director for RBC Capital Markets and Mark White, former Texas Governor and president of H.I.S.D. Foundation.
Teachers will benefit through local Fund for Teachers organization
May 3, 2005 – Jones Apparel Group, Inc. (NYSE: JNY) announced today on National Teacher Day the launch of its first corporate-wide cause program, Jones New York In the Classroom. This nationwide program aims to improve the quality of education for children through the recruitment, retention and support of teachers in America’s public schools. Carrying its signature brand’s name, the Jones New York In The Classroom program not only commits dollars to support America’s teachers, but expansive human resources as well. Jones Apparel Group’s employee network, combined with the support of four leading national non-profit organizations, provides the strength needed to bring the program to life in communities across the country.
Fund for Teachers was one of the four beneficiary nonprofits selected by Jones New York to participate in this national campaign. Fund for Teachers (FFT) is a unique public foundation whose mission is to enrich the lives of schoolteachers and students by providing outstanding teachers with recognition and opportunities for renewal. FFT provides funds for direct grants to teachers to support learning opportunities of their own design. FFT impacts teachers, classrooms, schools and students. Founded by Apache Corp. Chairman, Raymond Plank, the foundation’s enrichment fund is supported by individual and corporate donors.
“This summer teachers from many various US cities will benefit from our grants program,” states Fund for Teachers Executive Director, Karen Kovach-Webb. “Next year we hope to provide grants for even more teachers. The Jones Apparel Group is helping Americans understand how vitally important it is to nurture and invest in teachers. Jones New York In the Classroom will help raise awareness of teachers, the most important resource for our country’s future,” added Kovach-Webb.
Experts predict that two million more new teachers will be needed over the next decade, while recent studies show that approximately one-third of the nation’s teachers leave the profession during the first three years and almost half in the first five years. Research also confirms that not only are teachers the single most important factor in raising student achievement, but the ever-growing teacher shortage has challenged America”s schools, and has had a negative impact on the quality of education for America’s most valuable resources-its children.
“This is Jones Apparel Group’s investment in the future,” said Peter Boneparth, President and Chief Executive Officer of Jones Apparel Group, Inc. “Teachers are essential to the success of our children and Jones Apparel Group wants to take a leadership role in providing immediate and tangible help in the classroom, while encouraging others to join us along the way. We believe that if we appreciate the teacher, we in turn appreciate our children, which is exactly why Jones Apparel Group was inspired to take up this cause,” added Boneparth. Jones Apparel Group is taking a multi-faceted approach to supporting teachers at critical points in their careers, with a focus on four areas: recruitment, retention, professional development and recognition and support. By implementing corporate programs to raise funds and allowing employees paid time off to donate their time toward the initiative, Jones Apparel Group is making a long-term financial and corporate commitment to the following non-profit organizations and foundations: TeachersCount, New Teacher Academy, Fund for Teachers and Adopt-A-Classroom. Each of these groups addresses one or more of the Jones New York In The Classroom areas of focus.
Jones Apparel Group commissioned extensive market research with both their customers and their employees to determine what cause platform they chose. According to Stacy Lastrina, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Jones Apparel Group, “When we asked what issues are important, both employees and consumers lined up behind children and behind education as top priorities.”
Importantly, the Jones Apparel Group commitment goes beyond its initial $1 million grant to its founding non-profit partners. Specifically, each of Jones Apparel Group’s 18,000 employees will be offered the opportunity to volunteer up to three hours of paid time off each month in local communities in support of teachers and education, totaling up to 600,000 hours annually to support the cause. Additionally, Jones Apparel Group will work with its retail partners to launch its in-store cause marketing program, including a limited edition t-shirt featuring artwork from New York City artist Ryan McGinness.
An additional partner in the Jones New York In The Classroom program is The Fruit Company, an online retailer of fine fruits and gourmet gift specialties based in Hood River, Oregon. Working as a preferred gift vendor with Jones Apparel Group, The Fruit Company will donate 20 percent of its sales from gifts purchased on their Web site (www.thefruitcompany.com) with a special promotional code to the Jones New York In the Classroom’s founding non-profit partners.
Jones New York In The Classroom is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of education in America and inspiring others, both individuals and corporations, to do the same through support of teachers and vital teacher-based programs. For more information on Jones New York In The Classroom and their partners please visit www.jnyintheclassroom.org.
Jones Apparel Group, Inc. (www.jny.com), a Fortune 500 company, is a leading designer, marketer and wholesaler of branded apparel, footwear and accessories. We also market directly to consumers through our chain of specialty retail and value-based stores, and operate the Barneys chain of luxury stores. Our nationally recognized brands include Jones New York, Evan-Picone, Norton McNaughton, Gloria Vanderbilt, Erika, l.e.i., Energie, Nine West, Easy Spirit, Enzo Angiolini, Bandolino, Joan & David, Mootsies Tootsies, Sam & Libby, Napier, Judith Jack, Kasper, Anne Klein, Albert Nipon, Le Suit and Barneys New York. The Company also markets apparel under the Polo Jeans Company brand licensed from Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, costume jewelry under the Tommy Hilfiger brand licensed from Tommy Hilfiger Licensing, Inc. and the Givenchy brand licensed from Givenchy Corporation and footwear under the Dockers Women brand licensed from Levi Strauss & Co. Each brand is differentiated by its own distinctive styling, pricing strategy, distribution channel and target consumer. We primarily contract for the manufacture of our products through a worldwide network of quality manufacturers. We have capitalized on our nationally known brand names by entering into various licenses for several of our trademarks, including Jones New York, Evan-Picone, Anne Klein New York, Nine West, Gloria Vanderbilt and l.e.i., with select manufacturers of women’s and men’s products which we do not manufacture. For more than 30 years, we have built a reputation for excellence in product quality and value, and in operational execution.
Fund for Teachers recently recognized its 2005 fellows at a special award ceremony at the Intercontinental Hotel.
Ninety-six teachers from charter schools, private schools and ten different school districts from the Houston-area received grants for travel, seminars and workshops, and materials to enrich pupils in the classroom.
Teachers honored in our readership areas were Eva Felder of Awty International, Cindy Frost of Pershing Middle School, Connie Hutfless and Mary Avina of Emerson Elementary, Yubai Jacobs of Rogers Elementary, Joanna Pun of The School at Post Oak, Sidney Chambers of Pine Shadows Elementary and Keith Coleman of Westbury HS.
Also names as fellows were Heather Whitby of Herod Elementary, Nedaro Bellamy of Lanier MS, Michael Brundage and Kristen Bryant of Landrum MS, Rachel Allen and Shanna Standley of Hunters Creek Elementary, Stacy Winchell of Landrum MS, Laura Shanks of Lanier MS and Suzanne Webb of Roberts Elementary.