Africa fact of the day

Advertising Age calculates that around $100 million has been spent blanketing billboards and magazines with images of Bono and other "celebrities", while the total sum raised for Africa is $18 million.

Just to be clear… Total spent on making Bono more famous = $100 million.

Total spent on drugs for Africans = $18 million.

Here is the link, and thanks to Chris F. Masse for the pointer.  Jason Kottke comments


The productivity/counterproductivity of aid aside, isn't $18 million still $18 million? The disparity seems to be more an excuse to attack Bono than anything else. Has any commentator calculated how much money should have been raised?

Comments for this post are closed

He [Bono] stressed that this was a commercial venture and not philanthropy.

That about sums it up.

Comments for this post are closed

I don't care about Bono one way or another; I am not sure if I even know his music.

And maybe I don't understand how Red is supposed to work. (The letter from RED's CEO did not help me.)

But the numbers could also indicate simply that the campaign to raise funds is not working well. Sometimes you place ads and they simply don't pull.

So? Not everything works in life, especially in business.

Of course I guess Bono could be associating himself with something which doesn't work just for more publicity but I would sorta doubt that.

Comments for this post are closed

Though it seems grossly inefficient on the surface, I do agree that 18 million is still better than 0. Additionally, we have to recognize that at least it was consumers choosing, of their own free will, to buy a "socially conscious" product that contributes to a cause of their choice, rather than a government tax that takes from those who do not believe that this cause is a priority for them.

Comments for this post are closed

Arggggg, what is it that you people don't understand!

It is not as if there is a charity with 100 million that is asking itself if it should spend the lot directly on Aids relief or on adds to sell products, with some profits going to aids relief.

There are a bunch of companies with 100 million to spend on advertising and a group (RED) that is trying to figure out a way to get these companies to spend it in a way that helps poor people with Aids in Africa. Companies are essentially giving a portion of their profit to be able to use the RED logo.

If RED’s effort is to be considered inefficient we would need to know what they spend on managing and marketing the (RED) brand, i.e. what it costs them to make it interesting for companies to use the RED trademark. But the article does not give us this information at all, instead it simply guesses at what these companies spent to sell their products.

For the companies’ effort to be considered inefficient we would need to know not only what they spent on advertising their products with the RED brand, but what they make selling these products. We would also need to know how much more these companies would be willing to donate directly had they not invested in the RED business model. We could then get some idea on whether or not we can expect these companies to be able to contribute more to Aids in Africa by giving via the RED business model or by simply giving directly. If the RED business model is one that creates an incentive for companies to give at a level beyond their direct charity level because the brand is strong and the profitability of RED branded products is good, then we can say that the RED model is more efficient than the direct charity model.

If not we can say that potential charity dollars were wasted in various companies RED ad campaigns.

Comments for this post are closed


This is only an issue if we expect people who buy RED products to do so at the expense of donations they otherwise would have made. Do we have reason to think this is the case? We would need some data.

Even if we assume that people will reason this way they still have all the relvant informtion about how much of their purchase goes to charity. I looked at the products and it is clearly stated how much goes to the Global Fund for each product. So if I normally give 20 to charity and skip it to buy a RED ipod, I also know that only 10 dollars goes to charity. So I cannot motivate the choice to myself on the premise that the net result is the same, because I know that it is not.

Comments for this post are closed

The problem is that companies are portraying their RED work as actual charity. For instance, the Gap shirt above mentioned that 50% of profit is given to the charity. The phone advertised nonstop also gives some small percentage of profit to charity. Certainly there's, at first glance, some false advertising going on, isn't there? If a kid sells magazines and say it's to raise money for Little League, but ends up pocketing most of the profit, there's something wrong going on.

Further, I would be stunned if RED didn't, at the margin, substitute for normal charitable giving both from consumers and from the companies who sublicense the name.

Comments for this post are closed


What on earth are you talking about!!!????!! These companies are selling products for profit like they always do. And they are clearly saying that only a percentage goes to charity and what that percentage and/or amount is. How can that be "false advertising?"

They may be buying a "nice guy" image cheap, but maybe not. Do some work and see what the numbers says. For the iPod and the Converse shoes the price of their regular product is the same as the RED branded product, so they must be taking less profit on the RED branded product.

Comments for this post are closed

NCA says:

"The disparity seems to be more an excuse to attack Bono than anything else."

I fail to see the problem.

Comments for this post are closed

DK: intentionally targeting impulsive, emotional people

I would conclude from this that it is not displacing other charity. It reminds me of a couple of posts on this blog on charity which expressed the belief that impulsiveness is a big driver in charity, eg, that giving for specific events increases total giving.

Comments for this post are closed

Pardon I meant to say there "(would NOT have been spent...)"

Comments for this post are closed

Regardless of whether the promotion is for commercial and charitable reasons, or simply charitable reasons, $18 million is still being used to help AIDS in Africa. I think it is important though, that consumers realize that Bono's venture IS commercial, not completely charitable.

Why don't they just donate the $100 million straight to the cause in Africa... that would make a truer hero than using charity as propoganda for celebrities...

Comments for this post are closed

Thank God for aaron m, who seems to actually have a brain unlike some of the other clueless individuals who have posted comments on this topic. I love lazy people who sit around and ridicule a charitable campaign, one that is highly effective on more levels than one for those of you dolts who cannot seem to grasp that, and then pose moronic questions like "Why can't they just give directly to the charity?" Think what you want about Bono, he is DOING something, which is more than I can say for 99.9 percent of the people I know and, I suspect, most of (save aaron m) the people quoted on this site.

Comments for this post are closed

Comments for this post are closed