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Irish rock star Bono on Friday launched the U.S. version of his "Red" campaign that turns shopping into a funding stream to fight AIDS in Africa.
The program--the brainchild of the U2 singer and Bobby Shriver, nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy--encourages shoppers to buy Red-branded goods, while manufacturers pledge to channel a portion of the profits to AIDS programs financed by the U.N.-backed Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis.
The campaign has already raised about $10 million in Great Britain since its launch there earlier this year.
"The idea is simple, the products are sexy, and people live instead of die," Bono said in a statement. "When you buy a Red product, the company gives money to buy pills that will keep someone in Africa alive."
Gap is offering T-shirts and jeans; Motorola, a red cell phone; Converse, a series of limited-edition shoes; Apple, a red iPod nano; and Giorgio Armani, a collection of clothes and accessories--all of which will carry the Red trademark and channel up to 50% of profits to the program.
Bono was promoting the campaign on Oprah Winfrey's TV show on Friday after a shopping trip to participating Red stores in Chicago on Thursday.
The U.S. launch was also marked with full-page advertisements in major newspapers as well as celebrity support from Winfrey, rapper Kanye West, singer Mary J. Blige, actors Don Cheadle and Penelope Cruz, and model Christy Turlington.
Bono and fellow Irish rock star Bob Geldof have used their fame to raise money for Africa through international concerts and campaigns, meant to press leaders of rich nations to do more to eradicate poverty.
The Red campaign works alongside the ONE Campaign to Make Poverty History--a longer-term project launched in 2005 by Bono and 11 U.S. aid and nonprofit groups--that has more than 2 million members.
The Global Fund was established in 2002 to channel government and private-sector funding into the fight against AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis--the big killer diseases of the developing world--with a focus on Africa.
"We want to change history by writing its future," said Shriver, a Santa Monica, Calif., city councilman. "People buy things every day. But now when they buy Red, they will look good and do good--and that's good business." (Reuters)