Storytelling never gets old

Product RED Case Study

Remember those Vanity Fair spreads that featured celebrities sporting red shirts that read such phrases as Censo(red), Inspi(red), or Cente(red).  Or how about those sleek, red iPod nanos with (RED) etched on them? Maybe you’ve even indulged in a (STARBUCKS)RED exclusive beverage. These products are part of the Product Red campaign launched in 2006 by U2 rock icon and activist, Bono and Bobby Shriver from the major non-profits, ONE and DATA.  Partners include Iconic global brands like  NikeAmerican Express (UK), Apple Inc.Starbucks, ConversePenguin Classics (UK & International), GapEmporio ArmaniHallmark (US) and Dell.  The campaign RED has become a compelling story with many chapters and many to come.

Why consumers choose RED products?

It’s an easy answer. RED products cost the same as regular products so there’s no extra costs for the consumer.  The brand simply offers a varied design and charity incentive.  Up to 50% of profits made on the product’s sales are donated by the manufacturer to Global Funds.  Global Funds an international financing organization uses the money to help people affected with HIV in Ghana, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia.  Global Funds also focuses on preventive efforts including decreasing the number of babies born with AIDS transmitted from their mothers.

Why has this marketing campaign been so successful.

Today it has raised $ 190 million in efforts to stop the spread of AIDS and has helped 14 million people. It got its start on myspace.com . Today it has gone through some serious expanding over social networking sites.  It has 1 million plus Twitter followers at @joinred and millions of Facebook likes.   

The newest campaign called (Red) Rush to Zero. #redrush.  A 10 day campaign from June 1st -10th with focusing on getting 1.4 million HIV positive women and pregnant women on medication that costs 40 cents a day.   

What makes good brand story telling:

1. Superbly Communicated Goal-RED has a very clear and call to action goal that makes all aware of what they can do to help.  On the official website  it states their motive is to make it an AIDS-free generation by the year 2015.  It gives a limited time amount to accomplish the objective.  An easy number for people to calculate from today there is 2 years left, we better hurry.

2. The Perfect Pair– Tamsin Smith, Head of Product Red calls it ‘punk rock capitalism’.  This is playing off the fact that Bono the ultimate rocker is leading these efforts.  Punk rock is all about rebelling and change and so is RED.  RED is all about changing and lowering the stats of the millions of people infected with HIV/AIDS in Africa. Not to mention Bono had his foot in the door when it came to participating brands.

3. Win-Win– The other reason why the (Red) campaign was and is so successful in going viral is its powerful partners.  These partners were acquired because of the win-win structured opportunity they saw in selling RED products.   Not only does the brand feel good about donating to a good cause, but it also gains lots of publicity by participating.  Designing a new product just for RED gets consumers’ attention.  They start asking who made that product, it looks a like a Gap shirt…..  In turn, people want to buy it for a good cause, but also become a loyal to the brand because see it is charitable.  In addition, to people wearing or using these products it is like they are a walking billboard for RED.  It is a type of ethical consumerism. 

4. Covered all bases– This campaign has made sure to have all the components needed to reach the most consumers possible. Recently it has come out with a new documentary titled, The Lazarus Effect  that shows the donated money in action. It follows people who have started the medication and how their lives have positively transformed.    It can be viewed on HBO, YouTube, and a free iPad app has been released.  It’s own hashtag #lazaruseffect has also been created to ensure it will go viral. RED took over Twitter on World AIDS Day, celebrated Dec. 1 by essentially turning the site red.  Twitter changed its homepage to red.  The hashtags #red or #WorldAIDSDay turned links, hashtags and usernames red.  Tastemakers like Kim Kardashian and Bono were not shy about spreading the word.

5.  Appeals to a wide Audience– The RED campaign has managed to obtain a large audience by offering RED products in fashion, accessories, and tech.  Whether you need an iPad case or a glamorous watch you can be apart in putting an end to babies born with AIDS by 2015.

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