NEW YORK: American Express and three global fashion brands are teaming up with U2 singer Bono and AIDS activist Bobby Shriver to launch Product Red, an initiative that aims to raise money for AIDS.
Money raised from the sale of Red-branded products will support The Global Fund, which finances AIDS programs with a particular emphasis on Africa.
Douglas Smith, director of public affairs at American Express Europe, noted that the company hopes to reach the rapidly growing number of consumers who choose brands because of social causes.
He described the initiative as "commerce with cause," and eschewed the idea that Product Red is a "campaign," but rather "a sustainable flow of private business [dollars]."
"You want something that is ongoing and sustainable over a long period of time," he said.
American Express is targeting the lifestyle press to promote its Red card. It is also using web-based activities and celebrities in its outreach. "Public relations has played a leading role," Smith said, adding that socially conscious consumers are very aware of what's going on in the news.
The fashion brands joining American Express are Gap, Converse, and Giorgio Armani.
The Gap is launching its 100% African cotton t-shirts in the UK in the spring and in the US in the fall, according to Greg Rossiter, senior director of corporate communications.
"Our focus has been positioning this as a sustainable economic initiative," he said, adding that the retailer's PR team has been involved with the "very collaborative" launch outreach at the Word Economic Forum in Davos.
Rossiter also noted that its customers are focused on current social issues. "Gap is a brand that makes a very emotional connection with its customers," he said.
Giorgio Armani joined the initiative because of its long history working with the Shriver family and with Bono, according to Caroline Brown, SVP of marketing and communications.
The designer is promoting its first Red product – a pair of Emporio Armani sunglasses worn by Bono during U2's recent Vertigo World Tour – with media relations, in-store and window displays, and direct mail, Brown noted.