Red Campaign Tanks Bringing in Just $18 Million

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Oops. That feel good Red campaign isn't working out after all. It seems it took up to an estimated $100 million to bring in $18 million for the charity effort. Not exactly the best ROI for a campaign of any kind. Groups such as Buy Less Crap which we wrote about here have derided the campaign claiming it's stupid to make people spend money to buy stuff when they could just give directly to charity far more efficiently. It's true. While many businesses may need a middle man to function properly, charity is most certainly not one of them.

The star studded campaign which was fronted by Steven Spielberg, Bono, Christy Turlingon, Chris Rock, Oprah Winfrey and others seems to have been a flop. Global Fund Private Sector Head Rajesh Anandan defended the campaign telling Advertising Age, "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 front loaded. It's a very costly exercise."

Not many people are buying that line of thinking. A comment from Adrants reader, Hugh, to our piece on Buy Less Crap is representative of the sentiment. "It's like a bunch of celebritards got together and said, 'How can we look like we care, without actually doing anything other that what we normally do, i.e pose with shit?' And then some agency thought, 'How can WE look like WE care, without actually doing anything other than what we normally do, i.e. take pictures of people posing with shit?' And then, they got together, like Laverne and Shirley. Meanwhile, the rest of us felt the Invisible Hand of the Market trying to pluck our heartstrings. No. Wait. It's reaching for our wallets. Hey! That's not my wallet! I need an adult! Basically, the whole thing is: Buy This Crap Or Oprah And Bono Won't Be Your Friend."

Maybe the creators of the campaign thought it would work because they figured everyone out there is a mindless tweenybopper who just cares about buying the latest celebu-branded toy of the week and doesn't have time to worry about starvation and death in Africa. Hmm. Maybe they were wrong. Hmm. spend $100 million to get $18 million. Hmm. Yea, perhaps they were.

Written by Steve Hall    Comments (12)     File: Bad, Campaigns, Celebrity     Mar- 5-07  
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Comments

I think everyone in that campaign just over-estimated how influential they really are...whoops.. there goes 82 million!

Posted by: brent on March 5, 2007 10:56 AM

Not to downplay the crisis, but maybe for the average middle-class American, there are other more pressing things these days to worry about than AIDS in Africa. Seems like a luxury of the rich and famous to me.

It would have been better to just donate that $100 mil in the first place. I'd love to know how much medication that money could have bought for AIDS sufferers, or how many African clinics it could have supported. Stupid ass celebs.

Posted by: daveednyc on March 5, 2007 11:34 AM

in fairness to the (red) folks, this idea was a reaction to the fact that begging western consumers to give money to help the carnage in africa simply isn't bringing in enough cash. people just don't care enough. but we do like our celebs and buying stuff, don't we.

it's a little premature to call it a failure. as we all know, corporate america regularly throws out hundreds of milllions of dollars and frequently gets diddly squat in return. and no-one raises so much as an eyebrow. from what i gather (red) is intended to be a long term effort. so please, try to hold off on the gleeful declarations of failure.

it's easy to be cynical but at least they're trying to do something about a truly dismal situation.


Posted by: veedub on March 5, 2007 01:14 PM

in fairness to the (red) folks, this idea was a reaction to the fact that begging western consumers to give money to help the carnage in africa simply isn't bringing in enough cash. people just don't care enough. but we do like our celebs and buying stuff, don't we.

it's a little premature to call it a failure. as we all know, corporate america routinely throws out hundreds of milllions of dollars and frequently gets diddly squat in return. and no-one raises so much as an eyebrow. from what i gather (red) is intended to be a long term effort. so please, try to hold off on the gleeful declarations of failure.

it's easy to be cynical but at least they're trying to do something about a truly dismal situation.


Posted by: veedub on March 5, 2007 01:19 PM

That's what you get for not using a concept. A color is not an idea.

Ideas:1. Fashion: 0.

The agency should be ashamed.

Especially if it turns out the agency is just one of these limpwristed media companies that treat creative or "content" like an extra.

I bet there are some africans who could've used that 82,000,000 dollars.

Posted by: dean on March 5, 2007 05:51 PM

That's what you get for not using a concept. A color is not an idea.

Ideas:1. Fashion: 0.

The agency should be ashamed.

Especially if it turns out the agency is just one of these limpwristed media companies that treat creative or "content" like an extra.

I bet there are some africans who could've used that 82,000,000 dollars.

Posted by: dean on March 5, 2007 05:51 PM

sick of bono talking about poverty?
http://www.stop-bono-talking.com/

Posted by: veedub on March 5, 2007 06:21 PM

modernista did the red campaign. and we're cool!

Posted by: mdernista on March 5, 2007 06:35 PM

Did the RED campaign spend $100 million of their donors' money, or is $100 million the amount participating companies spent to promote their RED products?

U.S. taxpayers should be more upset about the billions of dollars we're spending in Africa to promote abstinence instead of safe sex and sex education.

Posted by: btn [TypeKey Profile Page] on March 5, 2007 06:36 PM

Perhaps the timing was a little off for this campaign. They launched the Red Razor phone and the Red Ipod Nano well after these products were brand new. . .many Americans who wanted one of those products already bought the non Red phone or Ipod. So what would motivate people to spend large amounts of money on the same product in a different color, especially when they could spend all of that money and donate it directly to a charity?

And I agree with Dean, people would rather not buy the clothes because red is a color, and a color is not an idea.

Posted by: Ashley on March 5, 2007 07:10 PM

Hey Smarties!

They chose RED because that's the color of the AIDS ribbon. It's not rocket science.

Posted by: David on March 6, 2007 01:41 AM

RED is also the color used for the American Heart Association.

I'm not a big fan of buying things that send a portion of proceeds to charity. If a company really wants to impress me, let's see them spend the money directly on the charity than on the campaign. Starbucks does the same crap with that overpriced water they sell. Something like $1 per bottle goes to whatever charity, but I think they capped it at some obsenely low amount. Hope they feel better about themselves too. I donate to charities I support directly.

I like those new charity coupons you can buy, instead of donating money to a charity of your choice in someone's name, you give them the certificate and let them donate your money to the charity of their own choice. Now that's a great idea. Spending 100 million to give back 18 million... not great for the charity... great for the company. I'm sure they'll make that back in the cell phone bills on those new accounts in no time.

Posted by: Pat on March 6, 2007 03:48 AM

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