The enormous marketing assault mounted by companies involved in the celebrity-backed Red campaign against AIDS has raised questions over whether it is effort best spent.
According to Advertising Age, as much as $100m splurged on advertising Red products by Gap, Motorola and Apple has returned just $18m to the Global Fund.
The Global Fund's head of private sector partnerships Rajesh Anandan said: "Red has done as much as we could have hoped for in the short time it has been up and running. The launch cost of this kind of campaign is going to be hugely frontloaded. It's a very costly exercise."
The magazine reports the spend-to-give ratio has caught the eye of non-profit watchdogs. Charity Navigator president Terence Stamp said: "The Red campaign can be a good start or it can be a colossal waste of money, and it all depends on whether this edgy, innovative campaign inspires young people to be better citizens or just gives them an excuse to feel good about themselves while they buy an overpriced item they don't really need."
A group of San Francisco artists have taken issue with the consumer-friendly campaign and set up the site buylesscrap.org, which encourages people to give directly to the Global Fund, rather than accepting the "notion that shopping is a reasonable response to human suffering." ®