Wall Street Journal Profiles Product RED
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday profiled Product RED, a project that aims to raise money for the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria by donating a portion of profits from a range of branded products. The Global Fund's creator, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, envisioned that the private sector would help to support the Global Fund, the Journal reports. According to the Journal, less than $2 million has been donated to the Global Fund by corporations since 2001. The Global Fund "is not an easy sell," according to the Fund's Executive Director Richard Feachem, because it asks for large amounts of money over a long time period, unlike emergency relief efforts. The Fund also does not allow private donors to direct how the money is spent, which is not attractive to many corporate-giving programs, fund officials say. The Fund's generally low profile is another problem, according to the Journal (Stecklow, Wall Street Journal, 4/13). Irish musician Bono announced Product RED at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in January. American Express, Converse, Giorgio Armani and Gap are the initial partners in the program and are distributing credit cards and selling tennis shoes, sunglasses and t-shirts, respectively, carrying the Product RED label (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/27). The products were launched last month in the United Kingdom. According to officials from the partner companies, it is too soon to tell how well the project is doing, the Journal reports. Product RED CEO Bobby Shriver said it will take 18 months to determine the initiative's success. Stephan Shakespeare, chief executive of YouGov, a British market research company, said consumers in the U.K. have not "reacted in a manner that these companies, at least in private, would have hoped for." Shakespeare indicated that there have been many issue-based products launched in the U.K. recently, which might have led to "consumer apathy towards [Product] RED, which even Bono can't overcome," Shakespeare said (Wall Street Journal, 4/13). The four partner companies have committed to the brand for five years and have pledged to give an average of 40% of profits from the products to the Global Fund. Product RED also hopes to partner with more companies (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/27). Officials from the project are hoping to announce a major cellular phone service deal, according to the Journal. Bono, Shriver and fund officials remain hopeful about Product RED's approach (Wall Street Journal, 4/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.