It appears Bono’s (RED) campaign has come under fire for spending $100 million on advertising in order to raise $18 million for Africa’s poor. Some say the money would have been spent on advertising anyway, but others counter that urging people to buy over-priced luxury products is not a responsible solution for global poverty. Perhaps it alleviates some guilt, but in the end simply produces "good-looking Samaritans".
I found this article to be very insightful on the issue. It seems there was a campaign launched in response to (RED) called Buy (LESS) Crap! I like their slogan: "Shopping is not a solution. Buy less. Give more."
But others have said that throwing money at Africa hasn’t worked, and won’t work, until the political, legal, and economic institutions have been transformed. Right now, aid simply serves to reinforce a cycle of repression, greed, and corruption.
It’s definitely these kinds of issues we should be thinking about as we pray to our Father, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
I think it requires us to be "wise as serpents" when we hear promises that we can change the world by buying more stuff, when we hear messages that say we can end poverty without sacrificing anything.
But it also requires that we be "innocent as doves," refusing to become cynical, and thanking God for every good deed that is done, every child who receives life-saving medicine, even if the way they got it was through a convoluted consumerist marketing campaign.
Read the article linked to above, and tell me what do you think about this issue.
I see it a couple different ways. Obviously, more consumerism isn’t the answer ultimately. The ideal thing would be that everyone would just give sacrificially, but let’s be honest, that’s just not going to happen. I wonder how many (red) products have been bought by people just out of trendy-ness that otherwise would never really think about just giving money to the aids cause. I’m sure there has been the negative aspect of people not giving as sacrifially and turning to the trendy things as a rationalization of “Now I’ve done my part AND have a fancy new cell phone!” Sure the whole (red) thing isn’t ideal, but 18million dollars of good has come out of it. Could some of the millions of advertising just gone to the cause and not so much spent on advertising?
. . .maybe. . . I don’t know. . .I’m not in advertising. As Ben mentioned, I think it’s just important for us to evaluate and be wise about everything from our personal finances to world issues and how those really do connect. If your cell phone contract is up and you were planning on getting a sprint(?) phone anyways, why not help the (red) cause. However, living “higher on the hog,” so to speak, while making ourselves feel better by buying (red) is a slight contradiction I’d say. If you’re concerned about aids in Africa, but have everything you need in life, why not just give that entire chunk of money to aids instead of buying that new (red) shirt that will just end up sitting in your closet with all other clothes that lost their “coolness” after the (red) fad is done.
To summarize my conclusion, (red) is not ideal, but good has come of it. Just be wise and think!
Bono has said in more than one conversation that he comes from a family of salesmen. His ‘selling’ of ideas he finds important comes naturally to him. Could be a curse or a blessing…
One of the positive results of the (RED) campaign was the RE-focus on AIDS in Africa. I once heard a CEO of a NGO say, ‘the media reports the stories people want to hear.’ The AIDS epidemic in Africa…and Indonesia and China…are stories we need to hear on a regular basis. We can’t insulate ourselves on our side of the flat-screen.
I’ve blogged on Product (RED) myself, and I really haven’t strayed too far from my original opinion with the exception of being able to watch the ripple effect… One of the ripples being several websites, including Buy (LESS) Crap. If one of the effects of the consumption oriented Product (RED) Campaign was the exposure of the redemptive strategies like Buy (LESS) Crap, then maybe Product (RED) served its purpose.
And then there’s the issue of money. Money, by itself is neither good nor bad. It the power it’s given that can be good or bad. This is where we have to engage our minds/bodies/spirits. The Product (RED) website lists the donations given by participating companies as amounts of up to 50% of ‘profits’ and/or anywhere from $5-$17 per item. When I look at giving (without buying) this way, who in America wouldn’t be able to give $5 towards the AIDS epidemic?
My favorite line is the article was: Money isn’t the real solution; changing hearts and minds and habits is.