From Tim Manners, Reveries: the best way to raise money to fight AIDS is to make sure that marketers make some money on the deal, reports Louise Story in The New York Times (10/4/06). RED was created by U2 Bono Vox and Bobby Shriver, Chairman of DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) to raise awareness and money for The Global Fund.
Not a Charity: This is an Economic Initiative
Bono and Shiver have teamed up with some of the most iconic world brands -- launch partners are Motorola, Giorgio Armani, American Express, Converse, the GAP -- to produce RED-branded products. RED™ is a branding mechanism companies license to sell these products. Part of the proceeds from the sales go to The Global Fund.
To be clear, this is not a campaign. It is an ongoing commitment from businesses to raise awareness and funds to help fight AIDS in Africa. The initiative aims to deliver a sustainable flow of private sector money to The Global Fund. Since its creation in 2002, this public-private partnership has committed in excess of $5.2 billion to life-saving programs in 131 countries. It accounts for a quarter of the world's funding for AIDS in the developing world, over half for malaria and two-thirds for tuberculosis. This translates in support for nearly half a million people on AIDS treatment. Every year, 3 million people die from AIDS.
From Iconic Initiative to Human Impact
The conversation around the sustainability of human life has shifted. After years of mixed chronicles on the influence of businesses in developing countries -- Empires of Profit by Daniel Litvin comes to mind -- businesses are now being called upon to partner with first world consumers to make a difference.
Augmenting the laudable work of nonprofit organizations such as the Stephen Lewis Foundation, companies can now give consumers a choice. The barcode designed for the RED Community symbolizes a group of African warriors and ties together the developing country and consumers -- it is set up to be a working barcode and to become instantly recognizable. You can sign up to get your own on the becomeRED mailing list.
The legal entity behind RED is called The Persuaders, LLC. It has several EU trade mark applications pending.