Monday, October 23, 2006

the (red) army
so it helps to be socially aware right?

well, i got to know more about project (red) from bruce's blog and according to their manifesto, (red)red seems to be rewriting the business models of the world. buy our products, we give $10 from every product bought to buy medicine to fight AIDS in Africa.

as usual, when i was reading the article and the what nots about how this product is launched, my cynical radar lept at all the tasty breadcrumbs that corporate america had left behind to lead me to its gingerbread house. but i hope to be as objective as humanly impossible, but i'm sure some of my personal bias will leak through.

for starters, what the model is perpetuating is that if you buy our product, you can make a difference. make no mistake, this is a wonderfully innovative idea to generate funds to manufacture medicines for the people who need it. i guess no matter what i say, i can't defeat this bottom line, that these companies will give more money to the AIDS benefit in a day than i ever will in my lifetime.

but this is where i say it merely addresses the symptons.

been longin' for that new ipod, get it in (red), want a new armani watch? get it in (red), wanna get a new GAP t-shirt? get it in (red). want the new U2 album or Oprah Winfrey's panties? get'em in (red). they've basically made it cool to be socially aware, helping the people who need help and cool to be charitable.

maybe they done for the masses what no scrappy social worker has ever been able to inspire the yuppies of the first world, and that is to get people interested. the products that (red) sells is the nice shiney carrot, because everybody wants the cool new (red) ipod. (iriver already had a red mp3 player with the H320)

but where i wonder are the deeper undercurrents. so if i buy my branded product, i've done my part to save the world? more insidious than this, you're not just buying a trendy (red) product, but you're buying a right to be able to sleep a peaceful, socially aware sleep. once i spend $199 (listed on the apple website), my $10 goes to a kid who needs it. well, the challenge i present is that if you forgo that apple product, you help 19.9 kids who could use it.

and what has apple or any company really done about anything? put a shiny new coat of (red) paint on all existing products, and suddenly you create massive cult items that everybody wants and you only give $10 to an African third world nation whilst your revenue reaches unprecedented hights because of the sheer branding power of a colour.

so what now? red is synonymous with helping AIDS victims in Africa? last i remember, i don't think there ever was a patent on a primary colour before.

as you can tell by now, my problem is not with the actions of (red), its with the attitudes that it perpetuates in the masses. if we choose not to break it down, we'll just find everything in our house a bright red colour, or until some other business model decides to sell (blue) products to help slave children in china. and we in our riches start stocking up on different coloured products, and as long as the hurt is elsewhere, our little difference in monetary alleviation means that we don't have to concern what the other causes out there. once we've spent more of our disposable income on products that help, we'll have less to give for problems closer to home, or those that you feel more for.

bottem line from me, don't buy a (red) product because you wanna help some kid in Africa, buy it because you enjoy the design and aesthetic of the product you bought, or the branding that has gone into making it a product with an inflated price tag. there should be no shame in that, but we should be ashamed of ourseleves if we think the only way we help people is by only by buying a product

don't get me wrong, i am conceeding that its great that money goes to where its needed, but if my symptom analogy is anything to go by, medicine getting delivered is the symptom cured, than our apathetic hearts is one of the root causes of any diseases.

a new coat of paint - that's what it looks like to me.

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