What have Bono, Elle Macpherson, Scarlett Johansen and Giorgio Armani got to do with American Express? Well the obvious answer is that they all have a lot of money to spend on their credit cards. The not so obvious answer is the launch of (Project) RED which brings big name celebs together with big name brands and big name credit cards all in the very big name of Charity! (Project) RED is the brainchild of Bono and Bobby Shriver and was launched last week in collaboration with their DATA organization which lobbies governments on debt, trade and AIDS in Africa and The Global Fund which fights AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria around the world. Ethical consumerism is what we are all about at TreeHugger so we are interested to know how (Project) RED will go about fighting devastating diseases in developing countries through people's everyday shopping habits in the consumerist crazy first world.The idea is quite simple: incorporate charity donations into people's everyday spending habits by creating products which give a small percentage of their value to The Global Fund. So for example if you go into GAP and buy the RED t-shirt (which is made in Africa) a percentage of the cost will go straight to The Global Fund, although how much is not specified, strangely. You can also buy some Bono style shades from Emporio Armani and some mudcloth sneakers from Converse. In the case of the Red Amex card they are making ethical spending so easy you don't even have to think about it. You just use the credit card as you normally would and they donate 1% of your spendings every quarter to The Global Fund. If you spend over £5000 in a year they will up the percentage to 1.25%.
RED is currently looking for more big name brands to get involved in the project. Companies will more than likely will be hooked by the kudos the brands currently involved are getting from industry and consumers alike. They are setting an ethical example and creating cool new products while doing it. Gap has said it will develop a full RED range beyond the original t-shirt and Converse have pledged a new RED shoe each season. They say that they will work in collaboration with 'designers, artists, musicians and filmmakers to inspire originality by creating limited edition Converse RED shoes on a unique canvas that preserves culture and celebrates creativity.' The Chief Marketing Officer of Converse, Dave Maddocks, couldn't be more enthusiastic about the idea. "Red is masterful in its simplicity: the greatest brands in the world enlisted to help with the biggest global emergency of our times. We are proud to be able to lend one of pop culture's most original and globally recognizable icons to assist in this critical endeavor".
No it cannot be denied that Bono, who is clearly in line for a sainthood with all his extracurricular rock star campaigning, has cottoned onto something big here. It comes down to that old adage of 'if you can't beat 'em join 'em'. While we at TreeHugger believe we can educate and inform people into making better lifestyle choices for the environment, we accept that affecting change is a slow process. Bono and chums clearly don't believe they have time to wait for this. Also when it's a question of needing money for anti retroviral drugs like, right now, then you've just got to go straight in at the top and take it! The clever part is that whilst they are getting money for their cause they are making everyone involved look good. The consumers feel good, the big brands feel good, and hopefully if the money is spent right and it is spent on the right things then (Project) RED will actually affect change where it really matters, in Africa.
There will be cynics who don't believe this kind of celebrity campaigning can ever work; those who might question the involvement of companies like GAP and Nike (who own Converse) who in the past have been attacked for their own ethical policies; and most of all the argument against this continual encouragement to spend spend spend will definitely be heard. However, the question that must be asked is, if the Global Fund has already committed US$4.5 billion to more than 350 programs in 130 countries since 2002 and this is still not enough to do the work that needs to be done, what other ways are there of getting a steady flow of sustainable money to fight the spread of AIDS and other diseases? Surely no one wants to sit through another Live 8? Via: tippster Zerlina ::Join RED