A new way to fight AIDS
HIV AIDS had been in the news for two decades. It was a human crisis on a huge scale, one that many had begun to see as unsolvable. As a result, financial support was now dwindling – although HIV infection rates were not.
Activists Bobby Shriver and Bono now had a bold vision to harness the power of the world’s biggest retailers to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. On the back of a napkin, they had outlined their idea for a unique union of brands, consumers and innovation that would help eliminate AIDS in Africa. Specifically they had identified three goals:
1. Provide consumers with a choice that made giving effortless
2. Generate profits and a sense of purpose for partner companies
3. Create a source of sustainable income for the Global Fund to fund the fight against AIDS.
“Wolff Olins helped to take (RED) from an idea on a napkin to a tangible, visceral vision that was game-changing for our partners.” Bobby Shriver, founder (RED)
The first challenge was to get some initial partners on board. Since they were doing something that hadn’t been done before, Bobby and Bono realised they would need to paint a picture that could help others share their vision.
Working in close collaboration, we developed a brand – (RED) – on the idea that it inspires, connects and gives consumers power. We created a unique brand architecture that united participating businesses by literally multiplying their logos to the power (RED).
We then imagined the potential products and experiences each partner might create – from everyday consumables to hero products that would build the connection to Africa and attract maximum attention. The key criteria for all products were that they had to be a little brighter and better than their everyday counterparts.
Joining Bobby and Bono on the road, we presented our vision of the future to Amex, Converse, Emporio Armani, Motorola, and Gap. Our intention was to provoke them to take the plunge, to create (RED) products and advertising campaigns.
More and more partners quickly came on board, as the appeal of (RED) was clear: it connected these corporations with a purpose beyond their own profit. Some partners went as far as manufacturing products or packaging in African countries, generating jobs and opportunities for local people.
As each new partner came aboard we worked to onboard them with the strategy, to collaborate on the design of products – such as the iconic AMEX (RED) card – and to provide guidance as partner teams began to generate ideas.
“Accentuating the idea that doing good is good business, (RED) is a 21st century initiative with sustainable, universal appeal.” (RED)
Bono launched (RED) at the World Economic Forum in January ‘06 to great effect, capturing the attention of consumers and business leaders alike.
Within just five weeks of the US launch, the (RED) brand had registered 30% unaided awareness. And immediately after its UK launch, research revealed the rewards for companies who showed the creative leadership to do something incredible. Amex, for example, saw an immediate lift in brand perception with younger customers. And GAP saw a major improvement in employee engagement, as well as the quality of incoming recruits. While their INSPI(RED) T-shirt became the biggest-selling in history.
Due to (RED)'s improved global awareness and expanding list of iconic partners – now including Apple and Starbucks – (RED) had proved it could provide a sustainable, reliable flow of money to the Global Fund.
"Wolff Olins took (RED) from an idea on a napkin to a tangible visceral vision that was game changing for our partners" said (RED) Founder Bobby Shriver.
Today (RED) continues to exceed its goals, recently passing $200 million in raised and donated funds. It is the largest private-sector contributor of the Global Fund to fight AIDS. More than 14 million people have been reached with preventative services – strong evidence that (RED)'s mission towards an AIDS-free generation is possible.
“$257M to the Global Fund. 55M lives impacted. 100% of $ to fight HIV/AIDS.” (RED)