November 2010 Archives

Holiday shoppers help defeat HIV?

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Is this advertising really going to help people with HIV/AIDS in Africa?

The great debate over Product Red has to be whether consumerism is fueling actual results for the African people dealing with HIV or if it's simply a way to make consumers as a whole feel less guilty about not ACTUALLY helping those in need. It becomes complicated when there is so much advertising for RED and people begin to wonder, where is that money coming from? Are the sales from RED beginning a vicious cycle of detached charity?

A New York Times article published in 2008 takes on these questions and lets the reader decide for themselves. In the article, it states that Ad Age criticized RED for spending $100 million on advertising, while only raising $18 million for the Global Fund. RED defended themselves, saying that they do not advertise, but the companies pay RED a licensing fee to use the logo and sell the brand.

The co-founder of RED said he wanted to achieve something more sustainable to help address the health concerns in Africa. Because you can't rely simply on donation to raise awareness or achieve a goal, I think that marketing for a cause like this has more pros than cons. Without the help of consumers buying RED products, the numbers of deaths in Africa could be much greater. So no matter the critics or praise that RED gets, it's still something to someone and is better than nothing at all.

A doctor working in Africa puts it into perspective:

"When I was going to medical school a few years back, we would see patients and send them home knowing they were going to die without medication," she said. "I don't feel that way now. The money we get from Red through the Global Fund is helping to save lives. That's the important thing."

What is your take? Do you think RED is simply a business or truly helpful to those afflicted with AIDS? Check out the NYT Article here: Bottom Line for RED

The Facts

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Children Are the Future

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"Every minute wasted is another five lives unjustly lost to HIV/AIDS. As the bureaucracies work to meet their goals and promises, the Keep a Child Alive Community is engaging schools, churches, workplaces, teams, clubs, and families around the world, in a movement to save lives and ensure access to lifesaving AIDS drugs is a universal human right." (Keep A Child Alive. 2010.)


Keep A Child Alive also known as KCA Community is another organization fighting Aids and HIV disease. The simple, inexpensive medications needed for those to survive this life threatening disease are available. In helping people receive this medication you will also prevent the death of a child. Children are being born to families and adults with HIV who won't live long enough to support their child. Who won't be able to care for an infant, a baby. Keep A Child Alive organization founded by Leigh Blake and sponsored and co-founded by Alicia Keys, in hopes to do just that, keep children alive after their death of their parents.

Here is the link to a video of a woman who inspired Blake to start this organization:
Family Care Clinic

Their mission is to provide treatment, love, and support to families affected by HIV/AIDS also. I had the opportunity to co-work with Penn State's Chapter of Keep A Child Alive. We had a documentary screening of Invisible Children. This is a film about the abduction and forced enlistment of children in Uganda.

I wanted to acknowledge this organization. I felt discussing Project (RED) was a great opportunity to discuss the children being effected. The Children in these developing countries are the future. 


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Project(RED), although a huge contributor to the Global Fund, has received some opposition from those organizations who see cause marketing as simply a product promotion strategy. One organization that is thoroughly opposed to cause marketing is This website encourages people to donate directly to the Global Fund, rather than indirectly contribute by shopping.

As it says on their welcome page, asks for people to join them "In rejecting the ti(red) notion that shopping is a reasonable response to human suffering." wants people to donate directly to charity, as they believe this is the most efficient and meaningful way to contribute. Many critics of cause marketing believe that individuals are really not fulfilling their social responsibility. While many people will buy clothes or products associated with a global cause, this trend can lead to laziness. encourages people to be more proactive, rather than just consume products. On their website, people can directly donate to different associated charities, as well as recommend a charity.

Two charities listed that specifically relate to AIDS/HIV awareness and treatment is Transcape and Canfar. Transcape helps support HIV/AIDS sufferers in South Africa, while Canfar is the Canadian Foundation for AIDS research. Canfar, which is a non-profit organization, has helped to raise over $15 million towards AIDS research, and also participates in many global awareness events.

buy less crap

buy less crap

buy less crap

These images, which are meant to be spinoffs of Gap's INSPI(RED) line, are featured on's website.

World AIDS Day Posters

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If you have been reading our blog you may have noticed a post about World AIDS Day on December 1st.  There are going to be meetups all over the world to discuss AIDS and here are some of the posters to advertise the event.  They are from all over the world and each has its own style.  Is there one that speaks most to you?  Do you think the posters cater to the culture they were created in?  Check out this website for more!Superexpresso.jpgKimou.jpgJames_Day.jpgCraig_Ward_Ian_Wright.jpgBrosmind.jpgAm_I_Collective.jpgAlex_Trochut.jpgAdam_Hayes.jpg

Mashable Social Good Summit

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In September, Mashable and 92Y held a "Social Good Summit," in New York City to talk about ways in which social and news media can help tackle world conflicts and challenges.  As it says on the Mashable Good Summit site, the Social Good Summit was held to celebrate "the power and potential of new media to effect change." Mashable, which is a recently founded news website and blog, partnered with the United Nations Foundation to hold this event.

            (RED) CEO Susan Smith Ellis spoke on behalf of Project(RED), along with singer Annie Lennox, CNN founder Ted Turner, and many others. Because we live in a world that is becoming more digitally dominant by the day, social media and online news sites can have a huge impact on world issues and challenges. The speakers at the Summit each spoke on behalf of their foundation, and talked about how the Millenium Development Goals laid out by the UN can be achieved through digital media.

            Mashable will hold their fourth annual Mashable awards, with nominations closing November 29th, which honors social and news media websites. This year, (RED) can be nominated for 3 awards:

  • Must Follow Brand
  • Best Web Video for The Lazarus Effect featured on YouTube
  • Most Creative Social Good Campaign (based around December 2009 World Aids Day campaign).
To nominate Project(RED), place your vote HERE!

RED Meetups

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On the Project Red blog, all the buzz is about the upcoming World AIDS Day on December 1. They have set a goal to have the first AIDS free generation born in 2015. There has been no AIDS free generation in 30 years! This means that no mother will pass on HIV through birth or breastfeeding. They stated that 1,000 of the 1,200 children who contract HIV everyday are in the Sub-Saharan region.

To promote World AIDS Day and their goal, they are establishing meet-ups all around the WORLD. Buildings will be using lights to turn the buildings red, where people have set times to meet up and discuss the issue at hand. I think this is a creative idea and a huge way to promote Project RED as a brand, but also receive a lot of support that they need to make an AIDS free generation.

There are no meeting spaces in State College as of now, but you are able to set up your own meeting space and time.

The closest meeting spots are in Pittsburgh at the Highmark building, Philadelphia at the Boat House Row, and many in New York such as the New York Stock Exchange. For a complete list or to set up your own meeting, visit: Red Meetup spots

Do you think that Project RED is setting an attainable goal, that there will be an AIDS free generation born in 2015? Why or why not?

Project (RED) ad

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So I recently found this advertisement for Project (RED).  And I am curious to find out what other's think of it?  Would it make you want to help Project (RED) by buying (RED) products or would it put you off?  Check out the video!

Project (RED) and ONE

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I had been wondering if these organizations, such as Project (RED) worked by themselves or partnered with other groups.  I saw a commercial for a ONE campaign for AIDS/HIV and I discovered they were partnered with Project (RED).  Both of these groups were co-founded by Bono.  ONE works with the government to change policy and keep governments responsible for AIDS/HIV.  They have recently launched a  commercial  stating that by 2015 no child should be born with AIDS.  

Starbucks update

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Starbucks has decided to hold a sweepstakes contest in honor of World AIDS Day on December 1, 2010. The prizes include a Product Red Starbucks gift card for $500 dollars and two Red tumblers designed by Jonathan Adler. They also sell the Red gift cards and every time you use it at the store Starbucks will donate 5 cents to the Global Fund to help fight AIDS. The contest is running through December 15. Here is the link:
Starbucks sweepstakes

I also found something interesting today dealing with Bugaboo strollers. I don't know if many people know about this brand, but I came across it the other day in some celebrity magazine. Bugaboo is celebrating their one year partnership with RED. They donate one percent of all revenue to the Global Fund. So that means that every product purchased through Bugaboo will help fight AIDS in Africa.

Their concern deals with providing medication for pregnant women or mothers so that HIV will not be spread through birth. To date, they have helped cover the cost of medication for 40,000 women prevent the spread from mother to child!

The website is pretty cool and offers videos and pictures for your viewing, like this one:


Bugaboo Red

Do you think their is a divide between companies like Starbucks and Bugaboo? Does the commercialization of AIDS coupled with a sweepstakes bother you at all?


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 The idea behind (red)nights is simple, enjoy good music while contributing to a good cause. (Red)Nights is a concert series featuring different musicians, with part of the profits from each concert going directly toward a fund to help buy and distribute antiretroviral medication. Some of the featured (red)artists include  

  • O.A.R
....and many more

Below is a video featuring one of the (red)artists, Ingrid Michaelson. As Ingrid says in her interview, you can do something by not really doing anything at all.

The story of Lazarus

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The Lazarus Effect, which is a lesser known part of Project Red, traces its name back to Biblical roots. In John 11:1-45, a story is told of a man named Lazarus who has fallen extremely ill. Lazarus's two sisters came to Jesus for help, but when Jesus arrived in Lazarus's hometown of Bethany two days later, Lazarus had already been dead for four days. Jesus prayed, asked bystanders to remove the stone that covered his burial place, and told Lazarus to come out. Following this command, Lazarus rose from the dead, and walked out of the tomb.

      Whether you are a person of religious background or not, this is a story of hope. For only 40 cents a day, two pills can save an HIV/AIDS victim, and "resurrect them from the dead." On May 24, 2010, HBO premiered their documentary called "The Lazarus Effect," which follows 4 AIDS victims and shows how the treatment of just 2 pills a day has made a huge difference in their lives. Below is the trailer for this powerful documentary. 


Bono takes on journalism?

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     When many people think of Project Red, they think of U2's Bono, as he has been on the forefront of this campaign since its birth. While we all know Bono as a musician, his celebrity status has also allowed for him to effectively spread awareness of HIV and AIDS in Africa. Whether you are for or against Project Red, it is hard to deny that celebrities will simply have a greater influence over the American public. The video below show a small peak of Bono's help as a guest editor in issuing a 2007 edition of Vanity Fair that features Project Red. 

Starbucks and Project Red

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"The Virtues of Conspicuous Giving: How self-righteous, empty-headed celebrities promote private charity"

This article was printed in the February 2008 edition of the magazine, Reason, written by Greg Beato.

                Greg Beato discusses the fact that celebrities like Madonna or Paris Hilton try to help causes like that of Africa's AIDS problem, but can they really help by attending something like a Gucci store opening?

He says that this fundraising is the "Bono-ization of activism."  He calls for more skepticism when it comes to celebrity endorsement.

He lists some impressive statistics. For the year 2006, there were $295 billion dollars in charitable contributions. This money obviously is not all from celebrities and their pockets. Many anonymous and everyday people are donating their time and money to help make a difference. Beato says that Oprah donated 58.3 million dollars in 2006, which only ranked her number 36 on the Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of top donors.

Celebrities like Bono do help the cause though, because without them there would be no publicity, no mass attention to help people with HIV/AIDS in Africa. He says that Al Gore can implement change faster with the help of someone like Leonardo Dicaprio, than going through Congress. Celebrity reinforcement, in the end, doesn't hurt anything.

                In 2007, an article about Starbucks promoting Project Red was published on Advertising Age. This article concerned the holiday season, which is upon us now. Not only are companies trying to make a lot of money, but they help remind us that this is the hardest time of year for less fortunate individuals. Because it's the season of giving, companies hope to tie in charity to help others during the season. In 2007, Starbucks decided to donate 5 cents for every holiday drink sold to the Global Fund. On December 1, 2007, in honor of World's Aid Day, they donated 5 cents of every drink sold to the Global Fund. They advertised with national TV spots saying "You and Starbucks, its bigger than coffee." They also used social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace to promote their efforts.

                The day after Thanksgiving, Starbucks had Chef Mario Batali, actress Mary Louise Parker, Annabella Sciorra, and model Helena Christensen for an event in Times Square, New York. Starbucks has a relationship with the coffee growers of Africa, therefore investing interest to help them with this epidemic of AIDS. Their corporate website says that they have generated over 14,000,000 days worth of medicine to the AIDS effort, which is amazing! I don't think Starbucks is doing anything special this year, but you can still buy RED products or use your Starbucks RED card to get your favorite cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

As a reminder: keep others who are less fortunate in mind this holiday season! If you would like to donate to help those with AIDS/HIV through Project Red, here is the link: Donate Now! or purchase a gift for you or someone else from one of your favorite RED brands: RED Products

Remember: One day of medicine for these people costs only 40 cents!

And don't forget to like and follow Project Red on Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace!

Making A Difference

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"In Hollywood, philanthropy is the New Black. You're nobody unless you're using your fame - and your wallet - to promote good works" ("Cause Celeb" 2007: 10).

We all want to believe we can do good in the world, we all want to believe the charity we give is actually making a difference, and we all hope to believe that our money and donations are actually going to those who need it, instead towards a new pair of jeans, red t shirt, or an ipod. But whether or not we believe our money is being used for a good cause, Project (RED) does a substantial job with advertising and getting the message to invest in HIV and AIDS programs in Africa.

Their advertisements cause more skepticism in people each day; with celebrities like Bono and Oprah endorsing and promoting Project (RED) asking for our help. How much is being spent on ads, how much is spent on manufacturing these products instead of just going to Africa.

I found this site that seemed to sum up a lot of information dealing with Project (RED) and it's appearance.

Cause Marketing-Project RED living up to expectations?

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At the time of this New York Times article written in 2008, Project Red had generated over $22 million to fight H.I.V and AIDS in Rwanda. This money lead to better drugs, better medical facilities, and more in depth research. While all of this sounds great, many think that Project Red has still come up short. Inger Stole, who is one of the biggest critics of cause marketing, thinks that the companies who support Project Red are more concerned with promoting their company than the actual cause.

            Cause marketing is when a company associates themselves with a certain social cause, and makes people believe that they are making a difference by purchasing their particular product. As the New York Times article points out, a 2006 poll taken by Cone Incorporated showed that 89% of Americans between 13-25 would switch to a brand associated with a cause, if the prices were still comparable. While this sounds great, it also leads to less proactive Americans. By purchasing RED products, many people believe that they are doing their part to contribute, and therefore don't take any more steps to help the problem.

            Project RED may not have solved the problem of H.I.V and AIDS in Africa, but it has encouraged some to help who may not have originally gotten involved.  

Inger Stole's criticisms of cause marketing

Can a T-Shirt Save the World?

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Project Red is a campaign that helps fight AIDS/HIV.  Support for this campaign is gotten through (RED) products, like GAP t-shirts bought by consumers.   However, some critics disagree.  Some feel that the money should bypass the corporations and businesses selling (RED) products and go straight to the project red campaign.  And others point out the fact that many GAP products are made in factories that violate labor laws.  So what do you think?  Can a t-shirt really save the world?  Or do you think donations are best sent directly to the campaign?  Check out the case study below.

Can a T-Shirt Save the World?
When Oprah and Bono walked down Chicago's Magnificent Mile together in the fall of 2006, it was the shopping trip
seen around the world. The famous duo attracted mobs of fans and extensive media coverage as they promoted a
revolutionary new cause-marketing event called (Product) RED. Bono urged people to buy RED products, explaining that
a portion of the proceeds would go to The Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa. Oprah, wearing an "INSPI(RED)"
Gap t-shirt on her talk show that day, proclaimed, "I am wearing the most important t-shirt I've ever worn in my life!" 
Other companies that licensed the RED brand and created products for the charity included Apple, which sold a
limited edition iPod nano, and Motorola, which introduced a red Motorazr phone. Emporio Armani designed a special
RED capsule collection for London Fashion Week, and Converse designed a line of RED shoes to be sold at Gap stores. 
Oprah's shopping spree with Bono drew a reported an incredible one billion media impressions worldwide. (Product)
RED set up its own website,, and took over for the day to launch a page that now boasts
over 600,000 friends. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) funneled news about RED to mobile phones and blog sites, and it
quickly became a hot topic of discussion on message boards across the Internet.
(Product) RED was the brainchild of Bono and Bobby Shriver, who designed it as a commercial initiative that could
change the way causes are marketed in the future. "They didn't want a one-time event," says Julia Cordua, VP of
marketing. "They want five to ten years of ongoing donations."
Gap initially offered to give 100% of its profits to the cause, but Bono and Shriver refused to accept more than 50%.
Shriver insists that they want companies to make money off the campaign, explaining, "We want people buying houses in
the Hamptons based on this because if that happens, this thing is sustainable." As a result, Gap treats RED like a business,
spending millions on marketing it. Within months of its launch, they saw sales of an estimated $71 million in revenue and
donated about $2.5 million to The Global Fund.
According to the (Product) RED website, "Each company that becomes (RED) places its logo in this embrace and is
then elevated to the power of red." You can be embraced by the RED, it suggests, by purchasing a Gap t-shirt or African-
print Converse shoes. "What better way to become a good-looking Samaritan?!"
Some critics, such as Charles Kernaghan, Director of the National Labor Committee for Worker and Human Rights,
aren't buying it, though. "The thought of using consumer dollars made off the backs of workers held in sweatshops to help
fund Bono's causes is really hypocritical--that's not the way to go," he says, referring to Gap's reputation for using
factories that violate labor laws.
Since 2004 Gap has been working to combat this type of criticism by releasing Social Responsibility Reports on Gap
factories in over 50 countries. Despite their efforts, however, nearly half of the factories still failed inspection as recently
as 2005. When questioned, a Gap spokesperson responded by stating that Bono himself had inspected the African factory
where RED products were being made, and it was "sparkling."
Some bloggers remain skeptical of the fundraiser, however, declaring it "khaki colonialism." Michael Medved argued
that it would be better to forget the over-priced t-shirts and send money directly to The Global Fund. But whether you
agree with the way (Product) RED does business or not, the campaign is hard to ignore. David Hessekiel of the Cause
Marketing Forum proclaimed it "the launch of the year." Stacy Palmer of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, wrote, "These
are iconic brands that appeal to younger consumers who are very interested in buying cause-related products. (Product)
RED borrows on ideas that have been used a lot, but its scale makes it different. People are getting bombarded by RED."
 (Product) RED president Tamsin Smith reported on the campaign's blog that much of the merchandise was sold out
within hours of the launch. Oprah's INSPI(RED) t-shirt went on to become the bestselling item in the Gap's 35-year
history. Long-term success, however, depends on how well the participating brands continue to market new products.
They'll have to find ways to keep socially conscious consumers interested in RED now that most of them have been there,
done that, and (literally) bought the t-shirt.
Sources: Laura Heller, "Think Pink. Shop RED," Retailing Today, November 20, 2006; Betsy Spethmann, "The RED Brigade," Prism Business
Media, January 1, 2007; Geoffrey Gray, "Achtung, Bono! Activists See Red: Alliance with Gap Upsets Anti-Sweatshop Types," New York, October
30, 2006; Soo Youn, "Owner of Gap Releases Details of Operations at Textile Factories Worldwide," Daily News, May 13, 2004;;; 
1. Discuss the four components of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and how they relate to a charitable
campaign such as (Product) RED. How does participation in a cause-marketing event contribute to a
company's CSR? What role does sustainability play?
2. Do you think a partnership with (Product) RED can improve Gap's image? Is it a sign that they are
making a commitment to corporate social responsibility or do you agree with critics who say their
involvement is an attempt to spit-shine the company's image while continuing to do business as usual?
3. Describe the various types of technology that have contributed to the media coverage, marketing efforts,
and public discussion of the RED campaign.
4. A year after (Product) RED's launch, Ad Age reported that although $100 million had been spent on
marketing the campaign, only about $25 million had gone to the charity itself. Industry observers
speculated that this could trigger a backlash against the campaign. Do you believe the criticism is justified?
Do you think the campaign could lose supporters as a result?

HIV/AIDS & RED defined

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HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus and this causes AIDS, which stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. HIV attacks a person's healthy T-cells (CD-4 cells). These cells help your body fight infection. When HIV enters your system, it attacks these cells and makes copies so that your immune system becomes very weak. When this happens and T-cell count drops below 200 cells per millimeter cubed in your blood or a person has an opportunistic infection such as pneumonia or cancer, this person will proceed to the next stage of HIV, which is the most severe, AIDS.

This information is from the website HIV Treatment is Power. They provide an illustrative picture of HIV.


RED is an initiative that was launched in 2006. It paired many consumer brands with the Global Fund, which helps fight HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in the sub-Saharan Africa. The brand has the power to donate 50 percent of a purchased RED product to the fund, where the money goes directly to help the people affected by the disease. 

So far, RED has generated over 150 million dollars and helped over 5 million people with HIV/AIDS. Here is the process of the product and how it helps:

RED process.jpg

Bono is a major supported of Project RED. While promoting RED, I came across an interesting quote by him. He said: "I'm calling it conscious commerce for people who are awake, people who think about their spending power and say: 'I've got two jeans I can buy. One I know is made in Africa and is going to make a difference and the other isn't. What am I going to buy?' "

He makes a great point, by saying that people have the power in their hands to make a difference. If you're going to support one of your favorite brands like Gap or Starbucks, why not help make someone's life a little better over in Africa? He's saying we don't have to go out of our way or spend outrageous amounts of money to help. Buying jeans or a cup of coffee could really mean all the difference.


Project RED unveiled

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