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Home » Accountability, Cause Marketing, Celebrities, HIV/AIDS

Bono’s Red Campaign Faces Criticism

By Tom Watson on March 5, 2007No Comment

AdAge, the industry bible of marketing and advertising, has a critical article about the ballyhooed Red campaign to benefit the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. Only $18 million has been raised, despite the hoopla a a $100 million investment, and some critics are saying that the millions invested in advertising has no paid off in real fundraising terms.

The disproportionate ratio between the marketing outlay and the money
raised is drawing concern among nonprofit watchdogs, cause-marketing
experts and even executives in the ad business. It threatens to spur a
backlash, not just against the Red campaign — which ambitiously set
out to change the cause-marketing model by allowing partners to profit
from charity — but also for the brands involved.

The Fund’s supporters point out that the Red campaign also raises consciousness, and that its success can’t be measured in pure fundraising numbers. But AdAge’s Mya Frazier asks, "is the rise of philanthropic fashionistas decked out in Red
T-shirts and iPods really the best way to save a child dying of AIDS in
Africa?" And she points out that Red’s minimal economic return ha already spawned a parody:

"Shopping is not a solution. Buy less. Give more," is the message at, which encourages people to give directly to the Global

"The Red campaign proposes consumption as the cure to the
world’s evils," said Ben Davis, creative director at Word Pictures
Ideas, co-creator of the site. "Can’t we just focus on the real
solution — giving money?"

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