(Red) products bring donations for AIDS fund

Nearly 3 million people die from AIDS yearly. Of the 40 million people living with the disease, 60 percent are in Africa, with women making up the majority of cases.

This holiday season Product (Red) aims to have shoppers buy medical treatment for infected women and children while they purchase gifts. (Red) partners with companies worldwide on consumer products. Up to half the profits go to the Global Fund, which invests in African AIDS programs with a focus on women and children.

“We appeal to the Oprah audience: big cities and small towns,” said Julie Cordua, vice president of marketing for Product (Red), Los Angeles.

The U.S. campaign, begun in October, was started by U2’s Bono and Bobby Shriver, chairman of DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa), to engage the private sector in fighting AIDS in Africa.

The Global Fund, founded in 2002, relies heavily on public donations, which Ms. Cordua said hadn’t found a steady flow until the launch of (Red). However, (Red) is a brand, not a charity.

“With (Red) we can emotionally connect to consumers and sustain a good business model,” she said. “We partnered with teams who make quality products and who would make it viable from a business perspective.”

U.S. partners include Converse, Gap, Giorgio Armani, Motorola and Apple. Each company signed a five-year licensing deal with (Red). MTV Networks joined as the first media sponsor.

“Most companies give charities a certain amount per year, but cutbacks don’t allow for that,” Ms. Cordua said. “We have multi-year partner deals that will guarantee 40 to 50 percent of profits going to the Global Fund.”

(Red) handles none of the money, but rather charges a licensing fee for use of the brand mark. Companies pay for the management and marketing of the (Red) brand. Products can be viewed and purchased at www.joinred.com.

Results have been positive. When Oprah Winfrey wore a Gap INSPI (Red) T-shirt on her Oct. 13 show, the product became the best selling item across the entire Gap brand for October.

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