Believing that this was not just another cause but a global emergency, he created a charitable organization with Bobby Shriver and called it RED, the color denoting an emergency. Since 2012, RED has been a division of the ONE Campaign, another global charitable organization he created with Shriver that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa.
“It was not just to raise money to get pills for people who would die without those pills,” Bono explained at the opening session of the 2013 Clinton Global Initiatives about why he started RED. “It was to create heat on the issue of HIV/AIDS. As ONE campaigners, Bobby and I deal with a lot of global issues. But sometimes people want one separate issue that they can have an impact on.”
Even after speaking to U.S. lawmakers and appropriations officials on Capitol Hill who said that AIDS wasn’t an issue at home, Bono determined that the real money lay in government, not in private individuals. He saw a need for a multi-level mechanism to accomplish what needed to be done.
After deciding that 100 percent of the proceeds from RED would go to the Global Fund — established in 2002 to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria — Bono and Shriver created Product RED, a licensed brand that engages the private sector to raise awareness and funds to help eliminate HIV/AIDS in eight African countries.
Although the Global Fund had been created as a new kind of public-private partnership, before RED launched, businesses had contributed just $5 million to the Global Fund in four years while the public sector had given more than $5 billion.
RED was designed to kick-start a steady flow of corporate money into the Global Fund. It is licensed to numerous partner companies including Montblanc, Apple, Coca-Cola, Armani, Starbucks and Nike. Each partner company creates a product with the Product Red logo. In return for the opportunity to increase revenue through the Product Red license, up to 50 percent of profits gained by each partner is donated to the Global Fund.
Because of these efforts and support from celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Julia Roberts, Alicia Keys, Bryan Cranston, Benicio del Toro and Penelope Cruz, today RED is the largest private sector donor to the Global Fund. As of late 2017, it had generated more than $500 million for HIV/AIDS programs in Africa, where two-thirds of the world’s estimated 37 million people with HIV/AIDS live.
Sotheby’s will conduct a live auction in Miami to benefit (RED) on December 5. Two of the world’s art and architecture stars, Theaster Gates and Sir David Adjaye, have collaborated with Bono to curate the third (RED) Auction) auction, landmark sale and gala to support the fight against AIDS.
Focused on the theme of light and the color red, the collection of artist-donated contemporary art and design will be auctioned by Sotheby’s during Art Basel Miami Beach and Design Miami that evening. Worldwide bidding will be available live and online.
Preceding the auction is a public exhibition presented by Gagosian at the famed Moore Building in Miami. It opens on December 1, World AIDS Day. An online auction that began November 12 will continue through December 7.