Red all over

21Sep06

independent.jpg

This article is from the ( RED ) edition of The Independent of 21 September 2006, guest-designed by Giorgio Armani. Half the revenue from the edition will be donated to the Global Fund to Fight Aids.

Can buying a pair of shoes help to save lives? Bono and the philanthropist Bobby Shriver think so. Six months ago, they launched an initiative that would allow big business and its customers to contribute to the Global Fund’s fight against Aids in Africa. “The message,” explains Shriver, “to people who have never heard of RED, is simple. Keep doing what you’re doing, but do it with the right company.”

 

 

 

Can buying a pair of shoes help to save lives? Bono and the philanthropist Bobby Shriver think so. Six months ago, they launched an initiative that would allow big business and its customers to contribute to the Global Fund’s fight against Aids in Africa. “The message,” explains Shriver, “to people who have never heard of RED, is simple. Keep doing what you’re doing, but do it with the right company.”

Those companies are Gap, Converse, Emporio Armani, American Express and Motorola. This initial “big five” – RED plans to add other companies over time – have launched special lines of RED products, which donate a percentage of their profits to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Consumers know that a few pence in their pound have just been channelled directly into the fight against disease in Africa.

In the past, the Global Fund (founded in 2000 at the G8 summit) has had to rely on pledges, political and private, to raise money. Bono and Shriver’s idea behind RED is to maintain a substantial, healthy stream of cash to the Global Fund from the consumer sector.

“What we’ve had to persuade companies of,” says Shriver, “is that people exist who are willing to buy something just because it’s got RED attached to it. If this thing doesn’t make money for the companies, it’s not sustainable. So we’re now asking consumers: are you a RED person? This is the crucial period for RED, and we need to make that hard sell now.”

And, just as the idea behind the revenue stream is simple, so is the object of the campaign. “I find it astonishing, in America at least, that people don’t know that if you take these two pills every day, you don’t die from HIV,” says Shriver. “They say, ‘I didn’t know there was a cure for Aids!’ What we’re saying is – there is no cure, but there are anti-retroviral drugs that, if we can get them to enough people, can extend millions of people’s lives.

“How do you think Magic Johnson [who has HIV] is still around? He takes two pills a day, which he can get from any drugstore. But those drugstores don’t exist in Africa, and millions can’t get to the drugs Magic Johnson can get. That’s where the RED money’s going.”

As little as six months into the project, the results are tangible. “We’ve raised, through RED, $10m [£5m] to date,” says Shriver. “That’s not enough. But for an operation that’s only been doing business for six months – that’s pretty good.”

RED money is hitting its target. In May, Dr Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund, travelled to Rwanda and Swaziland, the two countries that are initially receiving RED cash.

“In only a few months, RED has doubled the amount of money coming into the Global Fund from corporate sources,” remarks Feachem. “And you can see things happening. The Rwandan case is particularly exciting. With money from the fund, Rwanda is mounting a counter-attack on HIV/Aids, expanding services for testing, doctor training and treatment. The country is on track for reaching its goal of universal access to testing and treatment by 2010 – a goal set by Tony Blair and the G8 leaders.

“In one village, there was an HIV-positive girl called Denyse, who was on death’s door. She had just been tested, and, a few days after our visit, she began anti-retroviral treatment. Our team went back to Rwanda two weeks ago. They found Denyse healthy and happy. She had put on weight. In only three months that is an astonishing result.”

For consumers, says Shriver, stories like Denyse’s say, there is something you can do. “RED gives power to people,” he says. When people ask me what they can do, I ask them if they have a cell phone. When they say yes, I say – get a RED one. Got a credit card? Go get a RED one. Wear a T-shirt? Get a RED one.”

COMPANIES DOING THE (RED) THING

Gap

Thanks to the designer Roland Mouret’s collaboration with Gap for RED, every woman can make the high street their catwalk. Mouret’s collection of 10 dresses, priced £45-£78, will be available from 7 November in French and UK Gap stores, with half the profits contributing to the Global Fund.

Motorola

Since the launch of the Motoslvr earlier this year, 5 per cent of the monthly revenue generated by each RED phone, and £10 from each handset sale, has been donated to the Global Fund. To promote its new phone, the cause of RED and to raise money for the Global Fund, Motorola organised a gig in Trafalgar Square last Saturday, with Kylie Minogue and the Scissor Sisters.

Converse

In 2008, it will be 100 years since Chuck Taylor founded the Converse Rubber Shoe Company. Converse’s latest project is a collaboration with Giles Deacon for RED. Deacon has adapted Converse’s classic ranges, which will retail for between £60 and £90, with 10 per cent of the net wholesale sales going directly to the Global Fund.

Armani

In April, Giorgio Armani launched a new style of RED wraparound shades for Emporio Armani, yet he could hardly be accused of seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses. Forty per cent of all sales of the RED glasses – which are soon to be joined by an entire Emporio Armani collection, designed for RED – go towards the Global Fund. The designer will unveil his new range at One Night Only, during this week’s London Fashion jamboree.

American Express

Any excuse for putting 15 feet of Gisele Bündchen’s legs on a billboard poster is laudable, and American Express has done just that in its latest advert for the RED credit card. Bündchen is one of a trio of beautiful women – the others being Elle Macpherson and Scarlett Johansson – who have done their bit for the campaign. At least one penny in every pound spent on the credit card is being donated to the Global Fund.

Can buying a pair of shoes help to save lives? Bono and the philanthropist Bobby Shriver think so. Six months ago, they launched an initiative that would allow big business and its customers to contribute to the Global Fund’s fight against Aids in Africa. “The message,” explains Shriver, “to people who have never heard of RED, is simple. Keep doing what you’re doing, but do it with the right company.”

Those companies are Gap, Converse, Emporio Armani, American Express and Motorola. This initial “big five” – RED plans to add other companies over time – have launched special lines of RED products, which donate a percentage of their profits to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Consumers know that a few pence in their pound have just been channelled directly into the fight against disease in Africa.

In the past, the Global Fund (founded in 2000 at the G8 summit) has had to rely on pledges, political and private, to raise money. Bono and Shriver’s idea behind RED is to maintain a substantial, healthy stream of cash to the Global Fund from the consumer sector.

“What we’ve had to persuade companies of,” says Shriver, “is that people exist who are willing to buy something just because it’s got RED attached to it. If this thing doesn’t make money for the companies, it’s not sustainable. So we’re now asking consumers: are you a RED person? This is the crucial period for RED, and we need to make that hard sell now.”

And, just as the idea behind the revenue stream is simple, so is the object of the campaign. “I find it astonishing, in America at least, that people don’t know that if you take these two pills every day, you don’t die from HIV,” says Shriver. “They say, ‘I didn’t know there was a cure for Aids!’ What we’re saying is – there is no cure, but there are anti-retroviral drugs that, if we can get them to enough people, can extend millions of people’s lives.

“How do you think Magic Johnson [who has HIV] is still around? He takes two pills a day, which he can get from any drugstore. But those drugstores don’t exist in Africa, and millions can’t get to the drugs Magic Johnson can get. That’s where the RED money’s going.”

As little as six months into the project, the results are tangible. “We’ve raised, through RED, $10m [£5m] to date,” says Shriver. “That’s not enough. But for an operation that’s only been doing business for six months – that’s pretty good.”

RED money is hitting its target. In May, Dr Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund, travelled to Rwanda and Swaziland, the two countries that are initially receiving RED cash.

“In only a few months, RED has doubled the amount of money coming into the Global Fund from corporate sources,” remarks Feachem. “And you can see things happening. The Rwandan case is particularly exciting. With money from the fund, Rwanda is mounting a counter-attack on HIV/Aids, expanding services for testing, doctor training and treatment. The country is on track for reaching its goal of universal access to testing and treatment by 2010 – a goal set by Tony Blair and the G8 leaders.

“In one village, there was an HIV-positive girl called Denyse, who was on death’s door. She had just been tested, and, a few days after our visit, she began anti-retroviral treatment. Our team went back to Rwanda two weeks ago. They found Denyse healthy and happy. She had put on weight. In only three months that is an astonishing result.”

For consumers, says Shriver, stories like Denyse’s say, there is something you can do. “RED gives power to people,” he says. When people ask me what they can do, I ask them if they have a cell phone. When they say yes, I say – get a RED one. Got a credit card? Go get a RED one. Wear a T-shirt? Get a RED one.”

COMPANIES DOING THE (RED) THING

Gap

Thanks to the designer Roland Mouret’s collaboration with Gap for RED, every woman can make the high street their catwalk. Mouret’s collection of 10 dresses, priced £45-£78, will be available from 7 November in French and UK Gap stores, with half the profits contributing to the Global Fund.

Motorola

Since the launch of the Motoslvr earlier this year, 5 per cent of the monthly revenue generated by each RED phone, and £10 from each handset sale, has been donated to the Global Fund. To promote its new phone, the cause of RED and to raise money for the Global Fund, Motorola organised a gig in Trafalgar Square last Saturday, with Kylie Minogue and the Scissor Sisters.

Converse

In 2008, it will be 100 years since Chuck Taylor founded the Converse Rubber Shoe Company. Converse’s latest project is a collaboration with Giles Deacon for RED. Deacon has adapted Converse’s classic ranges, which will retail for between £60 and £90, with 10 per cent of the net wholesale sales going directly to the Global Fund.

Armani

In April, Giorgio Armani launched a new style of RED wraparound shades for Emporio Armani, yet he could hardly be accused of seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses. Forty per cent of all sales of the RED glasses – which are soon to be joined by an entire Emporio Armani collection, designed for RED – go towards the Global Fund. The designer will unveil his new range at One Night Only, during this week’s London Fashion jamboree.

American Express

Any excuse for putting 15 feet of Gisele Bündchen’s legs on a billboard poster is laudable, and American Express has done just that in its latest advert for the RED credit card. Bündchen is one of a trio of beautiful women – the others being Elle Macpherson and Scarlett Johansson – who have done their bit for the campaign. At least one penny in every pound spent on the credit card is being donated to the Global Fund.

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