On my morning dog walk with Kiwi to Starbucks, I noticed an article on their community bulletin board with a photo of Howard Schultz and Bono announcing that Starbucks is joining the Product(RED) effort to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa.  It made clear that this involvement is about commerce not charity which I liked!  I hadn’t heard about this new partnertship yet…so when I got home, I went to the Starbucks website to see what I could find out.

The October 29, 2008 Starbucks press release says, “Starting on November 27, 2008 and continuing through January 2, 2009,  Starbucks will contribute five cents from the sale of any (STARBUCKS)RED EXCLUSIVE beverage* at all company-owned and licensed stores in the United States and Canada to the Global Fund to invest in AIDS programs in Africa.   Once (STARBUCKS)RED EXCLUSIVE Holiday beverages leave stores, the company will offer its customers the opportunity to make (RED) choices in their purchases every day.”

“(RED)’s primary objective is to engage the private sector in raising awareness and funds for the Global Fund, to help eliminate AIDS in Africa. Companies whose products take on the (PRODUCT)RED mark contribute a significant percentage of the sales or portion of the profits from that product to the Global Fund to finance AIDS programs in Africa, with an emphasis on the health of women and children. Current partners are: American Express (U.K. only), Apple, Converse, Gap, Emporio Armani, Hallmark, Dell, Windows and Starbucks.  Since its launch in the Spring of 2006, more than $112 million has been generated by (RED) for the Global Fund. (RED) money is at work in Swaziland, Rwanda, Ghana and Lesotho. For more information, visit www.joinred.com.”

(RED) has been controversial because people wonder about the level of contribution versus the amount spent promoting it.  However, (RED) is a commerce-based way to support a cause which means it needs to make business sense and be win-win.  Frankly, generating $112 million in 2 years for the Global Fund is only great news!!  What other marketing resources the companies spend to promote their (RED) products and their involvement they would be spending anyway.  At least these companies have all stepped up to be part of a movement that is looking for solutions to a serious issue of our times.