Media End AIDS with your c(RED)it card
posted by November 28 at 14:32 PMon
I’m glad we’ve moved into the retail-crazed countdown to Christmas. Why? Because Thanksgiving Day rings the death knell for downtown’s corporate charity window displays. Until recently, 4th and Pine seemed like the epicenter for the Gap Product (RED) campaign.
It’s easy to hate on the Gap for any number of reasons (sweatshops, commercials), but this specific campaign always rubbed me the wrong way. Last year, celebrity charity WonderTwins Bono and Bill Gates convinced Gap — and a group of other major corporations — to donate some of the profits from (RED) products to a global AIDS fund. And the campaign has raised a lot of money! $10 million so far. That’s fantastic! So why does the campaign still make me squirm? Because it’s not a charity campaign, it’s an ad campaign. And while it raises bundles of money to fight AIDS, Gap and others aren’t hosting it because of altruism or commitment to improving The Condition of Man. The campaign is good for business — not only does it make the corporation look good, but it makes their customers feel warm and fuzzy with righteousness.
As the Executive Director of the Global Fund said in an October NYT article, “I could go with my begging bowl every year to a major corporation and say `give me some money,’ and they might give me a one-off contribution, but it wouldn’t be large and it wouldn’t be sustainable. Red is intrinsically sustainable because Red is good for the companies.”
“I don’t really want to come across as being against something that funnels at least some money to people who need it. But the way the participating brands are using this, it seems to me, is pure marketing. It’s a way to give a “halo” (as they say in the trade) to an entire brand, without giving up profits from the brand’s entire product line… And now that I think about, that’s basically the same thing Red consumers get: Give me good product, and throw in a little “I care about others” with that, willya?”
Thanks, Rob. The Onion says it well, too.
Remember how the cure for 9/11 was to revitalize the economy via more shopping? Campaigns like this tell Americans that they can help fix the world — from the environment to the AIDS crisis — not by changing their lifestyles or actively committing to reform but… buying iPods…
and Armani watches…
Which is a lot easier (but no necessarily more effective) and soothes American consciences into complacency. Thank you for reading today’s scathing-critique-of-capitalism Slog post.