Santa Monica City Councilmember Bobby Shriver and Irish rock star Bono launched the (PRODUCT) RED campaign on Friday, October 13, designed to raise money to fight AIDS in Africa through shopping.
The campaign’s “primary objective is to engage the private sector in raising awareness and funds for the Global Fund to help fight AIDS in Africa.” Shriver and the U2 singer encourage shoppers to buy Red-branded goods, while the manufacturers pledge to channel a portion of the profits to AIDS treatment programs financed by the U.N.-backed Global Fund.
The project selected “iconic brands,” Shriver said, because the campaign depends upon building the RED brand, “and we needed help to do that,” and they got the help by using “brand builders” including Gap, Motorola, Converse, Armani and Apple.
Shriver, chief executive officer of (RED), explained: “With (PRODUCT) RED, consumers can tap into the power of commerce to do something amazing and unprecedented. Our partners have created incredible products that consumers will want and need, which is the beauty of (PRODUCT) RED. We’re not asking anyone for a donation or for them to change their behavior. People buy things every day. But now, when they buy (PRODUCT) RED, they will look good and do good – and that’s good business.”
When Shriver spoke with the Mirror, he stressed that this was a business proposition. He told the companies working with the RED brand, “We don’t want a donation; we want you to expand your business.” He said that he had been chided for a statement that he made to the effect that he wanted people to buy houses in the Hamptons with RED profits. But he was quite serious, he said.
This project is “good business” for the participating companies, Shriver said. “We want them to keep [a share of the] profits on the RED products.”
Gap is offering T-shirts and jeans, Motorola a red cell phone, Converse a series of limited edition shoes, Apple a red iPod nano and Giorgio Armani a collection of clothes and accessories – all of which will carry the Red trademark and channel up to 50 percent of profits to the program.
Bono was promoting the campaign on Oprah Winfrey’s influential TV show on Friday, October 13, after a shopping trip to participating Red stores in Chicago on Thursday.
(PRODUCT) RED launched in the United Kingdom earlier this year. The campaign has already raised about $10 million in Britain.
Bono, co-founder of (RED), said, “AIDS in Africa is an emergency, that’s why we chose the color Red. When you buy a (PRODUCT) RED product, the company gives money to buy pills that will keep someone in Africa alive. The idea is simple, the products are sexy and people live instead of die. It’s consumer power at work for those who have no power at all.”