The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

(PRODUCT)RED Leaves Something to be DESI(RED)

By Laura Oppenheimer in Miscellaneous on Mar 6, 2007 5:30PM

Remember when there was that big launch last October of (PRODUCT)RED? And Oprah and Bono showed up at the Michigan Avenue Gap and acted like douchebags? Do you remember that?

2007_3_product.jpgWe do. We also remember seeing a litany of celebrities — Steven Speilberg, Christy Turlington, Mary J. Blige, Penelope Cruz — in advertisements wearing the (PRODUCT)RED clothing. And we thought to ourselves, are we really supposed to be feeling good about buying clothes to benefit AIDS charities that are made on the backs of impoverished workers? Yes, Gap, we are talking about you.

As it turns out, (PRODUCT)RED has been somewhat of a bust. Despite participation from brands like Apple, Motorola and Armani, (PRODUCT)RED has grossed only $18 million (after a $100 million marketing campaign) for Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, (PRODUCT)RED's chosen recipient of funds.

So basically, Gap, Apple, et al, could have just given $100 million to the Global Fund and they would have ended up $82 million richer. Not so fast, says Julie Cordua, VP-marketing at Red. She said that the campaign was incredibly front loaded, so over time, the campaign will make more money. She also added that not all of the partners have closed their 2006 books yet, so the $18 million is just a starting point.

"The Red campaign proposes consumption as the cure to the world's evils," Ben Davis, co-creator of Buy Less Crap told Advertising Age. "Can't we just focus on the real solution — giving money?"

We haven't loved the (PRODUCT)RED campaign, but we do believe there is potential for harnessing consumer spending power for good; we just aren't sure how to do it. What do you think? Is this an effective way to get the entitlement generation to give to charity? A way for for-profit corporations to use their power to push for positive change in the world? Or just another method for Bono to get his face in the newspaper and Gap's logo up on a billboard?

Image via (PRODUCT)RED.