RED campaign earns just $18mn

In a worrisome portent, it appears that the RED campaign may be more hype than substance. As you may recall, Bono’s RED campaign links the purchase of products–sunglasses, cell phones, shirts, jeans–to proceeds for the Global Fund. It was launched in the US (after an earlier UK launch) with much fanfare in the fall with an Oprah special, lots of ads, etc. The ad costs may be greater than the actual revenue the Global Fund derives from the proceeds. Moreover, it may be the kind of philanthropic cover for large firms that divert attention from more direct ways of giving.

It’s interesting to see that private giving to the Global Fund (aside from the Gates Foundation), for all the hype about this campaign, still is overshadowed by public giving.

Rajesh Anandan, the Global Fund’s head of private-sector partnerships, said Mr. Feachem was misquoted, and defended the efforts by Red to increase the Global Fund’s private-sector donations, which totaled just $5 million from 2002 to 2005. (The U.S. Congress just approved a $724 million pledge to the Global Fund, on top of $1.9 billion already given and $650 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.)

It may be a little premature to suggest that this campaign has been a failure, but the activists who are against this campaign do have a point. Why not just cut out all the shirts and sunglasses that you might not need and donate directly to the Global Fund?

Interesting post-script with a vigorous response by the RED campaign. An article in the Independent from the UK made the case that the campaign has actually been quite successful, that the money raised has actually been more than $18mn and the advertising budget has been much less than $100mn.

Most businesses would think that to raise $25m in just six months on an investment of well under $40m was a staggeringly good rate of return.

More important, the piece noted that this is creating a revenue stream not solely based on charity of either firms or citizens. In that, it’s a new model that has leveraged five times more private sector money for the Global Fund than in the previous four years. The strategy also may buttress public support for the Global Fund.

The United States anti-Aids strategy, with strong personal backing from President George Bush, is now funded to the tune of $15bn a year. The US Congress has just agreed a record $724m donation to the Global Fund for 2007. It is all the result of concerted political pressure of which Red, with its constant advertising exposure of the message that “6,500 Africans died needlessly yesterday of a preventable and treatable disease” has been a key part.

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One Response to “RED campaign earns just $18mn”

  1. […] A few weeks ago, jt asked “and you want me to wear a bracelet?“, which i couldn’t help but think was the propoer response to the Red campaign. Now, if there is something you are going to purchase anyway, i guess throwing your money in the direction of soemthing like one of these products isn’t a bad choice, but if you are really interested in making a contribution to combatting HIV (or whatever other cause is currently linked to your consumption), then why not, as asked in this post about the questionable (at best) success of the Red campaigin, “Why not just cut out all the shirts and sunglasses that you might not need and donate directly to the Global Fund?” $18m? That’s it? (Especially problematic when >$100m was spent advertising the campaign.) What were the receipt totals that those donations were attached to? More than $1b? That’s my guess. […]