Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Join Red

When I first saw the announcement of RED I was a little skeptical. The message that just going shopping was enough to change the world seemed a little weak. I went through the website and wondered at how Armani, Converse, Gap, Apple and American Express were going to save the world with some t-shirts. I also wondered whether I should buy a pair of Converse just to be supportive of the project. And I thought, and I read more, and I thought some more.

Here's why I'm supportive of the RED project.

1. It's Bono. Don't laugh. Bono is really visionary and has an ability to think out of the box that I don't have. He's able to see a level of connection that I don't see and I trust that even if this doesn't look that substantial to me, there's something deeper going on that I'm not aware of yet. I've gone through the process before of being sceptical of his ideas (like ONE) when they first came out and later realized how brilliant they are.

2. This project is much bigger in England and has raised a high level of public awareness. I'm not a fan of tokenism or slacktivism, but if it helps people be drawn into the movement, then I'm willing to give it some leeway. Also, England tends to be ahead of the US on social justice issues, so watching what works there can be a good barometer of what can work here.

3. (and related to two) One of the kick off events in the US was a televised shopping trip by Bono and Oprah. Initially this turned me off the project until I realized how many people who had no previous exposure and would never look at ONE mentioned this event to me. They would never have listened to the more political message of ONE, but they were willing to listen to RED.

4. When I talked to a friend who has a strong background in social justice and social activism about it, he raised the point that this is providing a new model of corporate engagement in social activitivism. I wouldn't underestimate the importance of this point. If this is successful it will just be the start. Years ago people were laughing at the concept of "Fair Trade" goods.

I firmly believe that RED is just a small step in a bigger plan on this issue. If this step is successful, I think more companies will become involved and more layers of it will be revealed.

I don't think RED is the be all and end all. I think it's one small piece of a much larger puzzle of solving the problem of AIDS in Africa. It's not the most substantial piece and it's not the most aggressive piece, but I think it's the most populist piece. Solving the problem is going to take a multi-layered approach. I think this is just one of those layers. Seeing this roll out at the same time as Bono has been working with American churches on more faith-based initiatives to address the same issue tells me that Bono only sees this as one piece as well.

I totally respect the decision to support ONE and not RED, but I think it deserves more consideration than just as a shopping trip. Sometimes it takes a little while to understand and catch the vision. I'm willing to make the jump now.

Take a watch of the (RED) Manifesto below. I've got RED on my links so you can take a closer look.

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Blogger Bryan said...

What's slacktivism? I like the word, but I want to use it correctly.

Why would someone support ONE and not Red? I can see why someone would ignore Red, maybe it's not your thing (items are too expensive or whatever), but why would someone be against it? It's simply developing a cross-label brand which promotes products which support social value. If buying Red items takes away from donations, that's bad. Otherwise, it's a great idea and part of a move to social responsibility.

And I don't think Bono's involvement should be a negative. The world's leaders take him seriously on global economic issues. I think he's earned his credibility.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Joy said...

Bono's involvement is definitely a positive for me and the first thing to make me take notice of RED.

RED needs to be understood as a business model, and not as a charity.

1:19 PM  

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