Convivio's 14th edition campaign featuring images from the July 2017 edition of Vogue Italia.

MILAN Biannual Italian fund-raiser Convivio marks its 14th edition with a new format to further enhance the commitment with the city of Milan, as well as to target a younger audience.

During a press preview here on Wednesday, the charity supporting the AIDS/HIV cause unveiled a new location for the event running June 6 to 10, one additional day compared to the previous editions. This year’s edition will be the first after longtime supporter Vogue Italia editor in chief Franca Sozzani passed away in December 2016. It will be held at The Mall Big Spaces fairgrounds in the city’s new area of Porta Nuova Varesine. Previously, Convivio was set up at the former city fairgrounds at FieraMilano City.

Emanuele Farneti, who succeeded Sozzani at the helm of Vogue Italia, said the change of location was meant to centralize the event and to “change the experience, [it will be] not only a fair but more like a shopping experience.” He expressed his satisfaction saying that seeing “the most important brands join forces [to support the cause] is synonymous with excellence, which the city of Milan and Italy should be proud of.”

Already 200 brands have enrolled to support the 2018 edition of Convivio “and many more are still joining,” said the fund-raiser’s president Francesco Micheli. As per the long-standing tradition, a charity gala dinner will be held on June 5, and the company will set up its own table interpreting a designated theme, which this year is focused on science fiction. The supporting brands include Alexander McQueen, Azzedine Alaïa, Brooks Brothers, Prada, Versace, Moschino and Saint Laurent, among others.

The brands supporting the event donated a number of pieces including apparel, accessories and footwear, among other categories, which will be sold at half their retail price. The proceedings will be entirely donated to Convivio.

According to Farneti, this year’s shopping experience “has changed, including mono and multibrand corners. The space is also conceived to house a series of scientific talks,” he explained, spotlighting that raising awareness is as important as it is money.

Convivio’s support to the AIDS/HIV cause has funded a number of research programs as indicated by professor Andrea Gori, the medical director at the infectious disease wing of Monza, Italy-based San Gerardo hospital. “Convivio is one-of-a-kind, it is envied all over the world, also from a scientific point of view,” Gori said. For instance, the charity event has helped fund 38 scholarships, 52 studies for new treatments and 150 international publications in the past 12 months only.

This year also expanded to the food and wine category, as well as design items and automotive. For instance, Italian automotive brand ATS donated a GT car to be sold during the event; part of the proceedings for the sale will be devolved to Anlaids Lombardy.

“Research on AIDS is proof of how much medical research has an impact on everybody’s health,” explained Gori, warning about the fact that over the period spanning from 2010 to 2016 the number of new HIV infections was steady, with 142,000 new cases in Europe in 2016 only, 11 percent of which hit the youngest, aged 15 to 24.

In order to target a young, digitally savvy audience, Convivo decided to improve its use of social media to drive the attention on the disease, as well as on the charity.

After a shocking campaign two years ago, which claimed the “AIDS is fashionable” slogan, stirring up controversy among designers and the Italian media, the 14th edition campaign will deliver a different message. “We all agreed to deliver a positive message [this year],” said creative director Paola Manfrin, who oversaw the communication activities of the charity in partnership with Milan-based digital creative consultancy firm Grumble Creative, founded in 2016 by web influencers Paolo Stella, Eleonora Carisi and Ivano Marino.

To this end, the 14th edition’s catchphrase “Convivio: The Antivirus — Shopping Preventing AIDS” was developed through a series of eye-catching images and video. Vogue Italia and the longtime title’s go-to photographer Steven Meisel lent some shots from the July 2017 issue of the magazine, to appear on Convivio’s campaign. Digital-friendly videos juxtaposing the smiling faces of the models with cartoon drawings and animations of the HIV virus recalling the Eighties’ digital game PacMan flank the images.

The event’s promoting committee has also launched a series of digital fundraisers in partnership with New York-based Charitybuzz and Los Angeles’ Omaze auctioning fashion-themed experiences. Additionally the eBay for Charity platform will exclusively sell Convivio’s T-shirts worn and signed by the event’s testimonials.

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