Concepts, Research, Policy
Elgar original reference
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 77: Brand Aid? How Shopping Has Become ‘Saving African Women and Children with AIDS’
Lisa Ann Richey Introduction Product RED™ was launched by Bono at the World Economic Forum in 2006 to raise awareness and money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Under this initiative, iconic brands such as American Express, Apple, Converse, Gap, Emporio Armani, Hallmark, Motorola, and now Dell, Microsoft and Starbucks have teamed up to produce RED-branded products and encourage customers to ‘do good by dressing well’. The advent of ‘Brand Aid’ explicitly links international development assistance to commerce and not philanthropy. The RED initiative is an example of a cause-related marketing strategy to finance international development aid.1 RED relies on stereotypically gendered representations to sell products and ‘save lives’. Brand Aid brings modernisation theory into postmodern times as consumption becomes a mechanism for compassion. RED has both material and symbolic consequences for its target group, ‘women and children with AIDS in Africa’. In previous work, we have demonstrated that RED both corporatises aid relations and limits the scope of corporate social responsibility. In RED, Bono is the totem of ‘compassionate consumption’, steering away attention from the gendered causes of poverty, such as the inequities of systems of production and trade, by focusing on one of the outcomes, HIV and AIDS. Reputable ‘aid celebrities’ like Bono negotiate the interface between shopping and helping, yet it is the pivotal role of the consumer that distinguishes ‘Brand Aid’ from previous modalities of financing development assistance. A ‘rock man’s burden’ – imagined in terms of familiar constructs of sex, gender, race...
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