In re: Profiting on charity? say it ain’t so (product) red

“Not since the days of khaki colonialism has buying Africa been so sexy, so fashionable.”     -Richard Kim 

productred.gifYou might have heard about (product) red a series of products that are branded red (including iPods, tshirts from the gap, credit cards from American Express and more) and that when purchased give some amount to fight AIDs in Africa (Wikipedia entry).  Sounds good huh?  The shirts, which are fashionable sold out quickly online, but some question whether the line of products, which are partly the creation of Bono, are really that good.  Why is that?  Well a lot of the products don’t give that much to the charity and have jacked up prices.  Furthermore you could argue that they are benefiting from the ‘its cool to adopt like Madonna’ mystique and allow the high prices and the high profits – essentially profiting away from the socially responsible image they are selling.

I have mixed feelings, I do feel it would be better to applaud if the shirts (which are apparently made in Africa – good move there) and other products didn’t generate profits, but of course every little bit helps, these are companies – but something about benefiting off the backs of the social consciousness of their customers doesn’t seem right.  This was the opinion of a few others and a New York Times article Seeing Red in Product Red (sub required) addressed it :

“Companies offer products under the Red brand and give part of the profits to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. ( It’s the ”part” part that makes Mr. Kim (blogger on the see red. The campaign, created by the singer Bono and Bobby Shriver, a California politician and member of the Kennedy clan, is intended to allow companies to make a profit after deducting their donations.” See Richard Kim “Africa’s Poor Had the Best Week Ever” at the Nation.

Of course this isn’t the first time consumers have supported causes, we have the pink ribbons campaigns and the Livestrong bracelet that I participated in, although with that I don’t think (but don’t know) that someone was profiting from the $1 bracelets.

“Benefiting the cause of testicular cancer and its survivors, the LIVESTRONG bracelet made it officially cool to wear your virtue on your sleeve. More than 50 million people supported the cause by wearing a bracelet.” see “Buy our way to a better world” Toronto Star


One Response

  1. […] etc., so with that said… you may remember a while back when the product red campaign started I made a post on the subject.  Well since then apparently a lot of money (almost $20m) has been raised, but lots and lots more […]

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