In the (RED)

by Mar 5, 2007

redipod_thumbnail.jpgAccording to this article, after spending nearly $100 million on advertising, Bono’s (RED) campaign has raised only $18 million toward poverty and disease relief in Africa by selling special red phones, clothes, and iPods:

The campaign’s inherent appeal to conspicuous consumption has spurred a parody by a group of San Francisco designers and artists, who take issue with Bono’s rallying cry. “Shopping is not a solution. Buy less. Give more,” is the message at, which encourages people to give directly to the Global Fund.

Bono and his team have responded, saying on their website:

This marketing would have been spent anyway, on other product lines. It never would have been (nor will it ever be) given to the Global Fund. We were able to divert existing marketing dollars for (RED). The companies have erected signs in stores and billboards across America saying that AIDS in Africa is a serious global problem…

The only substantial point in your article is the notion that people will stop contributing to charity because they’ve purchased (RED) products. There is actual data showing that when people become aware of crises, they give more money rather than less. Your writer doesn’t mention that data. We believe (RED) will lead to more rather than less giving.

They’ve got a point. Somehow they convinced corporate America to spend $100 million out of their advertising budgets to make us more aware of the suffering in Africa. And they sold a few iPods along the way. Still seems to me like everybody wins.