For many weeks there have been speculations about the opening of a new shoe store in one of Germany’s biggest malls. Under the name “Walk for Life – Shoes & Stories” the owners announced a pop-up store in Frankfurt am Main that tells the success stories behind the shoes. Last week the secret was revealed: the store does not sell any shoes. Instead, it is a project by the non-governmental organisation AIDS-Hilfe and McCann Worldgroup Germany that displays used running shoes of HIV-positive people and tells their personal stories on- and offline.
The exhibition draws an authentic picture of their lives, from the infection with HIV until today. The intention is to bring the issue of HIV/AIDS right back into the centre of society and to promote the upcoming “Walk for Life” charity-run this sunday. Idea and concept of the store come from McCann Worldgroup Germany and its agencies McCann and MRM//McCann in Frankfurt. The Shopping-Center MyZeil supported the initiative. The project has already resulted in more than 2.500 new applications for the upcoming “Walk for Life” with over 5.000 people visiting the Pop-Up store.
Numerous influencers and journalists in Germany have received used running shoes with a mysterious invitation for the opening of a new exclusive Pop-Up shoe store in one of Germany’s biggest Malls, MyZeil. It was advertised with the promise to reveal the technologies, people and stories behind the shoes. For many weeks prior to the opening the new store was the talk of town.
Germany’s biggest newspaper BILD Zeitung had the big reveal on August, 31st, that the Pop-Up Store “Walk for Life – Shoes & Stories” will not sell any shoes, but instead tells the stories of HIV-positive runners. The intention was to bring the topic of HIV/AIDS back to the attention of sport enthusiasts and to reach out to people who have ignored the disease for a long time.
On the day of the opening in a well-orchestrated initiative AIDS-Hilfe Frankfurt and McCann Worldgroup announced: “Anyone looking to actually buy running shoes, will be disappointed tonight. Instead we offer an impressive exhibition with authentic stories of people living with HIV/AIDS and who are a huge inspiration for athletes and non-athletes,” says Achim Teipelke, managing director, AIDS-Hilfe Frankfurt.
Frankfurt am Main is one of Germany’s running hot-spots. It hosts several events like the Frankfurt marathon, the Frankfurt IRONMAN, the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge and countless charity runs, that attract thousands of professional and hobby runners. The right place for McCann Worldgroup Germany to underline the special purpose of the AIDS-Hilfe “Walk for Life” and to differentiate it from the other events.
“Walk for Life – Shoes & Stories” presents personal stories of mostly HIV-infected runners owning these shoes. In a showroom of 100m2 their stories are displayed with photos, biographies and encouraging statements and facts about how they are living with HIV/AIDS today. Additionally HIV-negative people show their shoes and talk about their engagement for the AIDS-Hilfe.
“Today people are less informed about HIV/AIDS and their knowledge stems from outdated shock campaigns in the 1980s and 90s. To tell them about the new, encouraging reality of HIV-positive people we decided to surprise the public with an interconnected store,” says Sebastian Hardieck, Chief Creative Officer, McCann Worldgroup Germany.
“Walk for Life – Shoes & Stories“ for example tells the story of Hans-Ludwig Landvogt (57), who found out about his HIV-infection 28 years ago, when the virus was spreading fast in Europe. Landvogt continues to run the “Walk for Life” every year. Further stories of participants like André (35) and Fabian (25), a couple differing in their HIV status, are presented, as well as the biography of Schirin Bogner (32), who was the first child born with HIV in Europe and who still participates in marathons.
The problem: Clichés, discrimination and prejudices are still the biggest challenge to prevent HIV/AIDS from spreading further in Germany, as most people do not check their status. HIV/AIDS today can be treated, but the public interest declined and there is no cure yet. The prevention of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS especially with young people constantly decreases.
“Our goal is: No more AIDS by 2020 – therefore we have to challenge taboos and inform the public. “Walk for Life – Shoes & Stories” finds a new creative way to raise awareness. I am looking forward to numerous visitors, donators and participants,” says Achim Teipelke, managing director, AIDS-Hilfe Frankfurt.
“For more than 20 years we have supported the AIDS-Hilfe Frankfurt, underlining our social responsibility. Our initiative uncovers the human stories behind the numbers and statistics of HIV/AIDS,” says Thomas Auerswald, Creative Director, McCann Germany.
“Our pop-up store and the “Walk for Life” takes the issue of HIV/AIDS and the AIDS-Hilfe Frankfurt back to the people. We hope that this campaign motivates those affected by HIV/AIDS to stop hiding, start informing others and stand up to run with us,” says Olaf Haarsma, Creative Director, MRM//McCann Germany.
“Walk for Life – Shoes & Stories” is open from Thursday, August 31st, 2017 until Sunday, September, 11th 2017 from 9.00 - 19.00 p.m. in the Shopping-Center MyZeil, 4th floor, Zeil 106 Frankfurt am Main.