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Bono, the Irish rock star, lead singer with U2 and advocate for policies to end global poverty and disease, has announced that he is working with a number of companies to develop a brand called Product Red, with a share of all profits donated to charity.

Among the companies working with Bono are American Express, Gap, Giorgio Armani and Converse sneakers (which is owned by Nike). Amex, for example, will issue a new Red card, with profits going to fight the spread of HIV in Africa. The products will begin appearing on store shelves in March.

However, the arrangement is causing some controversy within the world of philanthropy, with some charities concerned that major corporations are in fact taking advantage of Bono and his causes to generate higher profits, and that less than expected money will go to the charities. But Bono seems to believe that a serious marketing effort will move people as well as product, and that consumers want to be able to good while indulging themselves.
KC's View:
We admire the impulse to do good through the conduct of commerce. We’ve admired it in Paul Newman, Ben and Jerry, Don Imus. And what Bono is trying to do in trying to combat global poverty and disease is enormously commendable.

The companies with which he is doing business clearly have decided that the consumer is looking for more than just stuff to buy. Probably a lesson to which more businesses should pay attention.