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Host Universal is an ethical brand strategy and communications network founded in 1997 by Robin Smith. Host works with clients on projects with social or environmental impact. Host has a core team in London, UK, and creates specialist teams for digital, print, video, film and identity tasks as well as live events, worldwide.
Host was set up in 1997 to work with Anita Roddick at The Body Shop International. The partnership created a global Self-Esteem strategy and creative campaign featuring Ruby, a size 16 doll, who was presented as a role model real women. The campaign aimed to bring attention to the issue of the media waif and skeletal supermodels, associated eating disorders and extreme diets. Roddick argued that fashion stereotypes did nothing for a woman’s self-esteem and, in the long term, are seriously damaging for society. “Once upon a time we cut a suit to fit a body, now we cut bodies to fit suits”. The global Self Esteem strategy was later picked up and utilized by Dove.
Host has been involved with Cafédirect from the company’s conception through to 2006. Host Universal worked with Cafédirect developing brand strategy and implementing design and communication work that included the creation of instant coffee product 5065 and the 5065 Lift Theatre group. Host developed the communications strategy behind the Cafédirect Share Issue in 2004. Penny Newman, CEO of Cafédirect said "We would not be where we are today without Host".
A project for Host in 2008 was starting a company called the United Bank of Carbon (UBoC) in partnership with Jonathan Wild, the Chairman of Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate. UBoC aims to develop sustainable investment opportunities for businesses and brands within the world’s remaining rainforest.
In 2009 Host worked on a rebranding project with Paul Myers and his team at IFAT. IFAT changed its name to the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) in February 2009. WFTO aims to create a sustainable global trading system. In 2009, Host created the World Fair Trade Day website that on 8 May 2009 became the hub for 1000 events in 70 countries.
In 2010 Host was developing strategy and communications for social finance.