In honing its social video presence, legendary denim brand Levi’s knows the importance of taking a stand when it comes to the social issues of the day.

“Gen Z and millennials really care what you stand for. In the future, there won’t be room to just not tell people what you stand for and just talk about skinny jeans. I just — who cares?” the company’s SVP and CMO, Jen Sey, told Tubefilter at digital video ad conference NewFronts West, which was held last week in Los Angeles. “If you can get a great product and you can get it from a company that shares your values, you’re gonna build a lifelong connection.”

This was a pertinent point given that the theme of the second annual NewFronts West was ‘Relationships Matter. Take A Stand.’ — and specifically sought to address the importance for brands of involving themselves in larger conversations. And Sey says that cultivating inclusion and advocating on behalf of marginalized groups has been a part of Levi’s DNA for decades. (For instance, Levi’s integrated its factories in the south long before it was required to do so, she notes, and offered its employees same-sex partner benefits beginning in 1992). What’s changed in recent years, she says, is communicating these efforts to consumers.

Most recently, the company partnered with English photographer, actress, and TV host Amanda de Cadenet on her GirlGaze initiative — an Instagram hashtag-turned-creative network that serves to get more female-identifying creators behind the camera for brand campaigns. In partnership with GirlGaze, Levi’s operates its own program titled I Shape My World, dropping each International Women’s Day, to showcase women who are changing the world in ways both big and small, say Sey.

Looking ahead to 2020, Sey says that the presidential elections will be a key component of its social messaging, following a push to encourage its consumers to vote during the 2018 mid-terms. Given that a key tenant of the Levi’s brand is self-expression, Sey says, there is no purer form of that than tendering one’s vote. To this end, the company plans to target first-time voters by registering shoppers in-store, give employees paid time off to vote as well as to register others, and donate money to fight voter suppression.

You can check out our full conversation with Sey below. And you can check out the rest of Tubefilter‘s interviews from our ‘2019 IAB NewFronts West’ video series right here.

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