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Case Study

U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol

Positioning the world’s​ leading sustainability initiative​​ in cotton

  • ServiceStrategic Communications, Innovation & Creative, Advisory
  • SectorEnergy & Industrials
  • Capability

    Better Impact, Behavioral Science, Content & Publishing Strategy, Creative Strategy

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol was developed to effectively evidence the sustainability efforts of U.S. Cotton farmers and give partners throughout the supply chain – mills, manufacturers, brands, retailers and consumers – confidence in U.S. cotton by offering full supply chain transparency and science-based field-level, verified data.

Cross-stakeholder communications to build demand for Trust Protocol cotton

This is particularly valuable at a time when the fashion and textile industries face major reputational challenges around environmental footprint and supply chain transparency as they navigate through intensive stakeholder scrutiny and potential reputational risk. Working hand-in-hand with the National Cotton Council (NCC) and the Cotton Council International (CCI), H&K launched the Trust Protocol in 2020 through an integrated approach spanning marketing, sales, communications and public affairs. In a competitive cotton marketplace, our sales and marketing efforts have helped to strengthen the Trust Protocol’s distinctive positioning. Additionally, H&K plays a key role the development of the claims framework, leads the writing of the front end of the TrustUSCotton website, creates assets for the sales team, develops the corporate narrative, and has published three annual reports.

H&K’s approach to cross-stakeholder communications has built awareness and demand for Trust Protocol cotton among supply chain partners, growers, consumers and legislatures. Our work encompasses research and auditing, content creation, storytelling through media, social media, events, thought leadership, direct engagement with growers as well as consumer-focused communications.

Building reputation through transparency and driving memberships

While we build reputation for the Trust Protocol, the H&K team actively identifies, mitigates and manages potential risks – with a focus on navigating the EU regulatory landscape including the impact of new legislations relating to emissions, reporting and transparency which are critical to any retail and fashion brand’s license to operate today in the EU and beyond.

Our efforts have contributed to driving membership and engaging growers – to date, the program has welcomed over 1,200 supply chain members, including global brands Levi Strauss & Co., Gap Inc. and Macy's, and enrolled 1.1 million acres of cotton into the program.

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    Acres of cotton enrolled

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