14 October 2006

When will Indian brands turn (RED)?

This is an excerpt from The (RED)™ Manifesto:

“All things being equal, they are not.

As first-world consumers we have tremendous power. What we collectively choose to buy, or not to buy, can change the course of life and history on this planet.

(RED) is that simple an idea. And that powerful. Now, you have a choice. There are (RED) credit cards, (RED) phones, (RED) shoes, (RED) fashion brands. And no, this does not mean they are all red in colour. Although some are.

If you buy a (RED) product or sign up for a (RED) service, at no cost to you, a (RED) company will give some of its profits to buy and distribute anti-retroviral medicine to our brothers and sisters dying of AIDS in Africa.

We believe that when consumers are offered this choice, and the products meet their needs, they will choose (RED). And when they choose (RED) over non-(RED), then more brands will choose to become (RED) because it will make good business sense to do so. And more lives will be saved.

(RED) is not a charity. It is simply a business model.”

Today AIDS is a preventable, treatable disease. Yet 5,500 people are dying from AIDS in Africa everyday. (RED) hopes to address this issue and save lives in Africa.

(RED) is an idea started by Bono (of Irish rock band U2) and Bobby Shriver, Chairman of DATA, earlier this year, to engage consumers and the corporate world with its marketing prowess and funds to fight AIDS. The campaign intends to raise awareness and money for The Global Fund by teaming up with the world’s most iconic brands to produce (PRODUCT)RED branded products. A percentage of each (PRODUCT)RED product sold is given to The Global Fund. The money will help women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.

The parentheses, or brackets, are used to indicate ‘the embrace’. Each company that becomes (RED) places its logo in this embrace and is then elevated to the power of red. Thus, the name (PRODUCT)RED.

Yesterday, 13 October 2006, (RED) partners Gap, Converse, Motorola and Apple launched their (PRODUCT) RED™ products in stores in the United States and online. (RED) is supported by various celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Penelope Cruz, Don Cheadle, among others.

In India today, the story of HIV/AIDS is as serious, if not worse. The following report is from AVERT, an international AIDS charity working in India:

“India is one of the largest and most heavily populated countries in the world, with over one billion inhabitants. Of this number, at least five million are currently living with HIV. According to some estimates, India has a greater number of people living with HIV than any other nation in the world.

HIV emerged later in India than it did in many other countries, but this has not limited its impact. Infection rates soared throughout the 1990s, and have increased further in recent years. The crisis continues to deepen, as it becomes clearer that the epidemic is affecting all sectors of Indian society, not just the groups – such as sex workers and truck drivers – that it was originally associated with.

In a country where poverty, illiteracy and poor health are rife, the spread of HIV presents a daunting challenge.

There is disagreement over how many people are currently living with HIV in India. UNAIDS (the United Nations agency that co-ordinates global efforts to fight HIV) estimates that there were 5.7 million people in India living with HIV by the end of 2005, suggesting that India has a higher number of people living with HIV than any other country in the world.”

What India needs today is a project similar to (RED). Indian brands and consumers need to come together to address the issue of HIV/AIDS and help rid – or, at least, reduce – the threat of this disease that is spreading across our country.

Will they? If not now, when?

1 comment:

HIV+DaveyBoy said...

It's great that these celebrities get involved with HIV/AIDS & help out, they have the most media power around!

I try to help out (limited budget) as much as I can by programming support websites for infected/affected (see http://www.HIV-Chat.org for HIVchat service example).