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More (RED) Debate

More (RED) Debate
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And maybe fueled a little by you-know-who... We're spotting lots more folk question the (RED) charity. The major article in the last few days has been by Advertising Age. Mya Frazier, the author of the article in the ad industry trade press spoke with us on Feb 28 about the four articles we had written on the subject but our comments were cut - "I think for space reasons," Mya told us. No sweat. What's interesting now is to see how the article has been picked up around the world...

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 7 march 2007

And maybe fueled a little by you-know-who… We’re spotting lots more folk question the (RED) charity. The major article in the last few days has been by Advertising Age. Mya Frazier, the author of the article in the ad industry trade press spoke with us on Feb 28 about the four articles we had written on the subject but our comments were cut – “I think for space reasons,” Mya told us. No sweat.

Bobby Shriver, the CEO of (RED), responded with this open letter.

What’s interesting now is to see how the article has been picked up around the world: in the US, in Greece, in Australia.

CNN even referred to the Ad Age article:

Here are some of the comments we’ve been mailed:

Anon, London: “Thank you for putting your head out for all of us that are rather frustrated with an incredible marketing scam and playing with consumer trust…”

Anon, NYC: “At the end of they day, the problem with it is that it is run by bobby shriver – and his whole raison d’etre (in my opinion) is trying to come to terms with the fact that while his mother was one of Jack and Bobby Kennedy’s siblings… his last name is SHRIVER, not KENNEDY…”

Seni, NYU Stern business school: “Based on a personal poll I conducted on campus (100 kids) only 12% of students had heard of the campaign and only 2% of the total sample had an understanding of the charity behind it. I don’t know where they got their numbers, but if NYU students don’t really know what the hell the (RED) campaign represents, it doesn’t give me much hope. The biggest issue with this is that they are only focusing on the $$$ aspect and not empowering or educating consumers to actually do anything; especially the youth.”

And on the blogs:

Anastasia of Ypulse: “I really believe that young people want more engagement, involvement and education around making a difference. Just buying a product isn’t enough. I also think partnering with The Gap is proving challenging — we all know they are struggling with their brand right now.”

Rohit Bhargava: “These are admirable efforts and anything to spark a debate about the level of assistance the Western world is providing to stop the Aids epidemic is good news, in my opinion.”

Rich Gould: “It appears that (RED) partner companies’ marketing budgets probably could have gone further if the companies just donated the money directly to the Global Fund. What remains to be seen, however, is whether or not (RED) will gain enough momentum to be a sustainable source of finance for the Fund.”

Fallon: “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.”

Steve Hall at AdRants: “Maybe the creators of the campaign thought it would work because they figured everyone out there is a mindless tweenybopper who just cares about buying the latest celebu-branded toy of the week and doesn’t have time to worry about starvation and death in Africa. Hmm. Maybe they were wrong. Hmm. spend $100 million to get $18 million. Hmm. Yea, perhaps they were.”

Josh Spear: “Are these (RED) companies serious about making significant contributions, or are they more concerned with the PR exposure?”

Crunchnotes: “People shouldn’t give to charity to get laid or feel superior to those around them. They should do it because it’s the right thing to do. And if you care about AIDS, don’t buy an iPod. Donate $400 directly to the Global Fund instead.”

Gawker: “Today, (Red) director Bobby Shriver responded by posting an open letter to Ad Age editor Jonah Bloom. Shriver claims that existing marketing dollars were diverted to the campaign, so that money would never have ended up in Africa anyway. And he’s adamant that the good done by (Red) can’t be measured exclusively in dollars: “The companies have erected signs in stores and billboards across America saying that AIDS in Africa is a serious global problem. What is the value of that communication? Your writer never tells us.” Oh, that’s what those signs and billboards were trying to tell us! We thought they were just about how, like, a red iPod is cool-looking and Penelope Cruz is hot. We’re dumb or something!”

Related PSFK Articles
After Huge Marketing Effort, RED Only Delivers $11.3M
More Questions About RED Charity
(RED) & PSFK Have A Little Back & Forth
Rumor: (RED) Raised $20m For Charity, Could Have Sold Licenses For $50M

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