April 27 2007 12:00 AM ET
It's been a little more than a year since Project (RED)'inspired by U2 front man Bono'was launched to raise much-needed funds for AIDS causes in underdeveloped countries. Soon afterward, celebs queued up to appear in ads touting Gap apparel, eye-catching gadgets like iPods, and the general philanthropy of the campaign in magazine ads and outdoor billboards. Ad industry experts estimate that the combined marketing contributions by Apple, the Gap, Motorola, and other corporate sponsors have topped perhaps $100 million to date.
With that kind of celebrity power and corporate capital behind it, Project (RED) seemed destined to be a wild success. But according to a report by AdAge.com in March, the worldwide take has been along the lines of $18 million.
Execs behind the campaign say the disparity between financial outlay and benefit is misleading at this point because of the high costs required for such a grand and global launch. And, they add, the long-term nature of the campaign is what will lead to greater contributions for the targeted charity: the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
But that rationale doesn't keep the detractors at bay. There's already one site'BuyLessCrap.org'that mocks Bono and his fellow wanna-do-gooders with the message 'Shopping is not a solution. Buy less. Give more. Join us in rejecting the tired notion that shopping is a reasonable response to human suffering.'
Ben Davis, creative director at Words Pictures Ideas and cocreator of the site, told AdAge.com, 'Can't we just focus on the real solution'giving money' directly to the Global Fund and other charities?