Woolworths Hires Rapper Pharrell to ’Make Sustainability Cool’

Woolworths Holdings Ltd., the South African retailer that bought Australian department-store operator David Jones Ltd. for $2 billion, has appointed Pharrell Williams as style director for sustainability-focused projects in Africa.

“We hope Pharrell will help us make sustainability cool for young South Africans,” Woolworths Chief Executive Officer Ian Moir said in Johannesburg on Thursday. “A year ago we announced our plans to purchase David Jones and now we are a bigger business, we need a bigger commitment to do more,” in terms of social development and sustainability, he said.

Williams, who won a Grammy Award for the song “Happy,” will visit South Africa in September to perform at a concert for 5,000 Woolworths customers, where children from local schools will be chosen to sing with him, Moir said. Woolworths also plans to double the amount it donates to schools in South Africa to 100 million rand ($8.3 million) and will invite clothing design students to submit proposals for t-shirts made out of recycled plastic waste. Williams will choose his favorite designs and these will be sold in Woolworths’ stores.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Williams and producer Kevin Wall said they are putting together a music event, dubbed Live Earth -- Road to Paris, to build support for protecting the climate. The Live Earth locations include China, Sydney, Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, New York and Paris.

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