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The RED campaign was launched today in London by Bono, with the help of Scarlett Johannson and Elle McPherson. The RED campaign includes an American Express credit card that gives 1% of all purchases to the, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as well as specially designed products from Georgio Armani, Converse, the Gap, and others. The campaign is only in England for now, but will launch in the US soon.
The purpose of the campaign is to get consumers more involved in the fight against AIDS, and to increase the private sector's contribution to the Global Fund. Currently the private sector contributes less than 1% of all funds to the organization.
Bono should be congratulated for his efforts to help the Global Fund and to reduce the spread of AIDS. One can question how significant an impact RED will make, as annual contributions to the Global Fund from RED will probably not exceed $20m per year and the total global resource needs for AIDS alone is around $18 Billion per year, but it will help to raise consumer awareness.
In yesterday’s Financial Times, Jagdish Bagwhati criticized Bono for not showing consumers what to do:

How, then, are we to translate the enthusiastic altruism that you have generated, dear Bono, into larger, sustained flows of aid? Surely the answer is to go after personal, rather than governmental, flows… With all the charitable spending I do, I could always forego a dinner at Maxim’s and eat at McDonald’s instead, pledging another $100 to the Geldof-Bono aid fund.

The good news, Dr. Bagwhati, is that you don't have to supersize those fries. Enjoy Maxim’s, and put it on your RED card.

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.