Friday, 25 March 2011


Product Red has been criticized for not having an impact proportional to the advertising investment, for being much less efficient than direct charitable contribution,[10] and for having a lack of transparency with regards to the amount of money going to charity as a percentage of every purchase. Some critics argue that a retail middleman between donor and charity is unnecessary; donors should just give.[11] Another critique is that Product Red's expansion into traditional fundraising techniques, such as art auctions, undermines its claim to be a different and more sustainable approach to raising money for AIDS.[12] Other critics have pointed out that its emphasis on funding treatment for AIDS sufferers meant that large amounts of the money will ultimately end up with pharmaceutical companies "unwilling to distribute their drugs for free".[13] Many accuse the campaign of profiting by using diseases as a marketing vehicle,[13] for being "cause branding" rather than corporate social responsibility.[14] In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Mark Rosenman wrote that it was an "example of the corporate world aligning its operations with its central purpose of increasing shareholder profit, except this time it is being cloaked in the patina of philanthropy."[15]

The National Labor Committee for Worker and Human Rights criticised Product Red for its links with Gap,[16] which was historically a target of anti-sweatshop activists, although anti-sweatshop organisation Labour Behind the Label states that Gap has "come further than many"[17] clothing companies to counter exploitation.[18] Gap's Product Red clothes are made in Lesotho, rather than simply for the best price in China (this goes beyond the requirements of Product Red). Labour Behind the Label criticises Product Red for not requiring more measures to protect the rights of the workers who make their products.[17]

Old data released in 2007 by Advertising Age claims retail participants in Product Red including Gap, Motorola and Apple Inc. have invested $100 million in advertising and raised only $18 million for The Global Fund[10]. In July 2010, however, (RED) claims to have raised over $150 million for the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. They also state that 100% of (RED) money is allocated to one of the Global Fund (RED) grants in Ghana, Lesotho, Rwanda, Swaziland, South Africa and Zambia. More than 5 million people have been reached with testing, counseling, treatment, and other services due to support from the Global Fund and (RED). [1] Apple donated $10 of the sale of their $149 iPod during the initial stages of the campaign, and no longer discloses how much it donates.[19] The Official (Product) RED website confirms that "The purchase of 1 iPod Nano (Product)RED can provide over 3 weeks of lifesaving medicine to someone living with HIV in Africa."[20] Dell's website states that it costs US$0.40 to provide one day's worth of medication.[21] By combining both facts, one arrives at the conclusion that Apple donates at least US$8.40 from the purchase of each iPod Nano Product(RED) to the Global Fund.

One spoof campaign known as BUY (LESS) mocks the consumerist bent of (RED) with its own call to "BUY (LESS) CRAP!"[22]. The BUY (LESS) campaign encourages people to forgo the premium-level products and donate directly to charities. The BUY (LESS) campaign carries the slogan, "Shopping is not a solution. Buy (Less). Give More." The BUY (LESS) campaign site features a short list of recommended charities, such as: World Vision, Global Fast, and Habitat for Humanity. The (LESS) campaign also holds out a critical letter to (RED) CEO Bobby Shriver, posted online.

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