Marketing Philanthropy: (RED)’s Strategy to Success

It’s been a while since I’ve posted to this blog, and so, I wanted to return with something a bit more lighthearted. I recently came across a commercial for (RED), the worldwide organization dedicated to eradicating AIDS. And since this website is dedicated to promoting philanthropic and charitable efforts and organizations, I figured I could do a light analysis of the commercial.

Firstly, I would like to point out that the video is almost two years old, and that it is based around the holiday season. Regardless of its age, it is still a clever video.

As for the video itself, it begins with Barry Manilow answering a phone call from Jimmy Kimmel. It is no surprise that commercials use celebrities as spokespeople, however, (RED) is famous for its specific use of celebrities in almost all of its ad campaigns. It is clear that this commercial is aiming for a comedic theme as Barry Manilow, legendary singer and songwriter, answers the phone by stating his record of writing songs that, “make the whole world sing.” Kimmel, confused by Manilow’s answer, pushes forward with the call, asking for Manilow’s assistance in writing a jingle for (RED)’s Holiday Shopathon, to which Manilow obliges. As Manilow goes to write the song, it cuts to actress Scarlett Johansson singing the jingle that Manilow has created. Johansson, wearing a (RED)-branded t-shirt, dances and sings the jingle in tandem with Manilow. The jingle’s lyrics invite shoppers to purchase (RED) products in order to help stop AIDS. Fitting in with the comedic tone of the video, Johansson’s gestures are all exaggerated and cartoonish, and once the song is finished, Johansson breaks the fourth wall by asking the camera crew who wrote the song. It’s an incredibly catchy song and a very clever video that entices viewers to purchase products during the holidays through (RED).

If the (RED) brand name sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve written about it before in a previous blog. You’ve also probably purchased or seen Product (RED) items before. The organization, co-founded by U2 frontman Bono, partners with large, worldwide brands to create Product (RED) goods and services for purchase. Up to 50% of the proceeds then go to fighting (AIDS) around the world.

Through the use of catchy songwriting, self-awareness and a light hearted tone, the (RED) Shopathon commercial is memorable and important. And (RED)-branded items are not solely sold during the holiday season; there are Product (RED) goods sold year round through various companies and brands, including Apple, Coca-Cola and Starbucks.

AIDS is a terrible disease that has afflicted millions throughout the world; by purchasing (RED)-branded items, you can easily and affordably help make a difference.

Silicon Valley Charity Doesn’t Cut It

Doug MacFaddin Silicon Valley Charity Doesn’t Cut ItRecently the leaders in the tech industry met in San Francisco’s silicon valley for TechCrunch’s seventh Annual Crunchies Awards. Inside the room was filled with CEO’s from major companies like Google, Twitter, and Facebook, while the sidewalk outside was filled with protestors. Those holding the signs were there because of the result of the booming tech industry: gentrification and displacement.

The rise of Silicon Valley has gentrified many areas, raising rent rates and forcing middle-class working families out of their homes. As if to add insult to injury, Twitter negotiated tax breaks with the local government after threatening to take their business out of San Francisco. The result was a group of unhappy, hard working Americans protesting the Crunchies Awards and asking for help.

Silicon Valley has responded with a few CEO’s starting charities. Some, like investor Ron Conway, are even working with the major to find solutions and to use the leverage of the tech industry for good. It may be that the only reason the tech company is taking action on this issue is because of the protests and an effort to improve their image.

The protests have pointed out that the charity the tech industry has attempted to put together is not enough. Some measures are as backhanded as Spotify, the music playing service that promised to “pay for employees to attend local performances including concerts, theater, dance, or performance art shows” in an effort to help the community.

Because of the tech boom rental rates have risen 72 percent since 2011 and the instances of no-fault evictions have doubled in the past year. Some protestors want to see the tech industry pay for affordable housing, free public transportation and community parks.

The tech industry may not clearly see the large impact they have had on the San Francisco community. It is pretty clear that they are not doing enough to mitigate the damage they’ve caused to working class families.