Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Product Red

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Product type  Brand
Markets  Worldwide
Owner  (RED) (ONE Campaign)
Website  red.org
Introduced  2006; 11 years ago (2006)

Product Red, stylized as (PRODUCT)RED, is a licensed brand owned by (RED) that seeks to engage the private sector in raising awareness and funds to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in 8 African countries. It is licensed to partner companies including Nike, American Express (UK), Apple Inc., The Coca-Cola Company, Starbucks, Converse, Electronic Arts, Head, Buckaroo, Penguin Classics (UK & International), Gap, Armani, Hallmark (US), SAP, Beats Electronics, Supercell and the YouTube personality PewDiePie. The concept was founded in 2006 by U2 frontman and activist Bono, together with Bobby Shriver of the ONE Campaign and DATA. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a recipient of Product Red's money.


As part of a new business model, each partner company creates a product with the Product Red logo. In return for the opportunity to increase revenue through the Product Red license, up to 50% of profits gained by each partner is donated to the Global Fund. As Product Red is owned by Red, a portion of the contributions received from the partner brands is assigned as profit. Such an amalgamation of humanitarian aid and for-profit businesses is one example of "ethical consumerism".

In 2012, ONE acquired (RED) as a division of ONE. Both organizations were co-founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver.

The Global Fund

Created in 2002, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria supports large-scale prevention, treatment and care programs for these three infectious diseases. Today, a quarter of all international funding for HIV/AIDS-related programs, over half for tuberculosis, and almost three-quarters for malaria worldwide comes from The Global Fund. The concept of “performance-based funding” is central to the organization and only those grant recipients who can demonstrate measurable and effective results from the monies received will be able to receive additional financing. 100% of the funds generated by Red partners and events goes to Global Fund programs that provide medical care and support services for people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. No overhead is taken by either Red or the Global Fund. Red is the largest private sector donor to the Global Fund, and has generated over $150 million for HIV/AIDS programs in Africa. In November 2013, Jony Ive and Marc Newson hosted an auction at Sotheby's to raise millions for the fund. The event was attended by major celebrities including Bono, The Edge, Hayden Panettiere, and Courtney Love.


Products include:

  • Bugaboo International. A design company that makes pushchairs for infants and toddlers. Bugaboo contributes 1% of its total revenue to The Global Fund.
  • American Express Red card. Launched in 2006. 1% of spending is donated to the Global Fund.
  • Gap sells a line of merchandise including T-shirts, jackets, scarves, gloves, jewelry, bags and purses. Gap donates 50% of all Product Red profits directly to the Global Fund.
  • Converse is selling a shoe made from African mud cloth.
  • Giorgio Armani has announced a line of Emporio Armani products that include clothes, jewelry, perfume, and accessories.
  • Motorola has announced special editions of their SLVR, KRZR and RAZR mobile phones, with a 50% profit of each purchase going to the Global Fund.
  • Canon released a version of their SD990 camera along with a leather case in 2008/2009. Only 500 were produced.
  • The Independent newspaper is in partnership with Product Red.
  • The Hotel Café tour is presented by MySpace and Product Red.
  • Apple Inc. has released special edition iPod Touch 5th generation and five other generations of iPod Nano and the iPod Shuffle with a Product (RED) theme, as well as a (RED) $25 iTunes Gift Card. They have also released Product (RED) branded Smart Covers and Smart Cases for the iPad 2, iPad (3rd generation), iPad (4th generation), iPad Air, iPad Mini, and a leather case for the iPhone 5S. On 29 October 2013, Apple created and donated a one-of-a-kind (RED) Mac Pro computer which was auctioned by Sotheby's at the (RED) Auction on 23 November 2013. The (RED) Mac Pro was auctioned for $977,000 (Sotheby's had estimated it would bring $40,000-60,000). A one-of-a-kind pair of solid gold Apple EarPods was auctioned for $461,000. It is reported that Apple has raised more than $65 million for (RED) since 2006. Apple has now designed PRODUCT red Apps. Apple has claimed that all IN-App Purchases bought within these PRODUCT Red Apps are donated to the relief of AIDS. On March 21, 2017, Apple released a Special Edition of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in Red.
  • Nike has released a special line of red shoelaces, with the profit going to the charity. Their motto is "Lace up, save lives." Didier Drogba is the face for the promotion of the laces.
  • NEED magazine is in partnership with Product Red.
  • Hallmark has introduced greeting cards that are Product Red.
  • In a partnership with Microsoft, Dell announced that it would manufacture versions of its computers (XPS One, XPS M1530, and XPS M1530) that would come with a PRODUCT (RED) version of Windows Vista Ultimate preinstalled. The company also released a PRODUCT (RED) printer.
  • Microsoft would later release the PRODUCT (RED) version of Windows Vista Ultimate as a standalone product.
  • Girl Skateboard Company released a two-part deck series with a (Product) Red graphic. A share of the profit goes to the charities.
  • Starbucks participated during their 2008 holiday promotion. For every holiday beverage ordered, 5 cents went to Product Red. Starbucks also offers the Red Card, and donates five cents every time the card is used.
  • The Killers write a Christmas song every year, with the latest being "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and a compilation album of all their Christmas singles called "Don't Waste Your Wishes," in aid of RED. One hundred percent of profits are given to the charity.
  • Flower (RED) a new online flower delivery service launched in the United Kingdom.
  • Monster Cable makes special edition of Beats by Dr. Dre Solo HD with name Solo HD (PRODUCT)RED
  • Carolina Bucci has created a special edition of her gold and silk Lucky bracelets.
  • Tourneau created two special edition watches, with 15% of the retail price contributed to The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
  • Belvedere vodka produces special edition red-colored bottles. A portion of the proceeds go to (PRODUCT)RED.
  • Head (company) produces special RED tennis bags as part of the (PRODUCT) RED project.
  • In 2014, U2 released a charity single "Invisible", and a Super Bowl commercial to announce the partnership between RED and Bank of America.
  • In 2014, some iOS apps and/or games, such as PewDiePie's Tuber Simulator, Angry Birds, Cut the Rope 2, The Sims FreePlay and Clash of Clans added a 'RED' update for a limited time (November 24 - December 7), in which, the 100% of the money spent on the app or making an In-App Purchase will go to the Global Fund.
  • Apple Inc. introduced a (PRODUCT) RED Special Edition of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. It is available in 128GB and 256GB models starting at US$749. Both special edition models will be available worldwide beginning Friday, March 24 and start shipping to customers by the end of March in the US and more than 40 countries and regions, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, the UK and United Arab Emirates. Brazil, Chile, Colombia, India, Turkey and other countries will follow in April.
  • Criticism

    Product Red has been criticized for not having an effect proportional to the advertising investment, for being much less efficient than direct charitable contribution, 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. Like with the Gap website and Campaign Red, some argued that it encouraged consumption of the products, thus, encouraging companies to use the product for publicity, rather than social responsibility. While Product Red has helped give funds and attention to the problem, it does not form a relationship between the donors and recipients. Scholars argue that this sacrifices the purpose of movements such as Product Red. Jessica Wirgau, professor at the Virginia Politechnic institute stated that, "Red not only misses the opportunity to promote civic engagement with its audience but also.... gives corporations the power to decide which causes should be supported and to what degree". 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. 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". Many accuse the campaign of profiting by using diseases as a marketing vehicle, for being "cause branding" rather than corporate social responsibility. 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."

    The National Labor Committee for Worker and Human Rights criticised Product Red for its links with Gap, 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" clothing companies to counter exploitation. 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.

    Data released in 2007 by Advertising Age claimed retail participants in Product Red including Gap, Motorola and Apple had invested $100 million in advertising and raised only $18 million for The Global Fund. In July 2010, however, Red claimed to have raised over $150 million.

    In an attempt to combat the critics, particularly regarding Product Red's Transparency, around 2008, they implemented a calculator to show consumers how many doses of treatment would be received with the purchase of a Red Product. With this, some have stated that, "the campaign offers the illusion of activism without requiring behavioral changes or political engagement". While this critic shows that there are negative aspects of this program, he also states that "it finds a way to generate something positive out of the currently existent system".


    Product Red Wikipedia

    Similar Topics
    Egghead Rides Again
    Dayanna Grageda
    Sian Lloyd (news presenter)