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(RED): Achieving Goals Through Consumerism


We’ve always championed reinvention here at space150; as we say, we’re “overcommitted to evolution” and believe that change is one of the most important factors of success in any endeavor. So in recognition of World AIDS Day we’d like to call attention to (RED), an innovative brand that’s working to improve the lives of millions of people suffering from AIDS in Africa. RED was created by U2 lead singer Bono and Bobby Shriver, Chairman of DATA, a multinational NGO that provides relief aid in Africa, to raise awareness and money for The Global Fund by teaming up with iconic brands like Giorgio Armani, Motorola, and American Express. A percentage of each RED product’s sale is given to The Global Fund; according to, to date more than 10 million dollars in aid has been sent to Africa, with more on the way.

There has been limited innovation in cause marketing and fund raising in recent years—but what little we’ve seen has played out in the digital arena. The tsunami in 2004 raised significant funds online and was a powerful example of traditional charitable giving amplified by the power of the Net. RED has distinguished itself as more than a charity, dependent on individual donations—it is in fact a business model with a new kind of brand as its core proposition. The overarching brand is (RED), while the products that endorse the brand, like the cool (RED) iPod, are referred to as (PRODUCT)RED. In this BBC News article, Bono explains how RED is different, noting that “[w]e are not endorsing [other company’s products], these products endorse us.” By creating a dynamic model to help solve this global epidemic, RED has recontextualized philanthropy as a consumer-driven model.