Marketers are ever increasingly tapping in to the social conscience of the consumer. Watching Top Model the other night I saw an advertisement for a special red Motorola cell phone that helps supports defeating AIDS Africa. Not only that American Express has a credit card where a portion of your purchase goes to fighting AIDS. The more you spend the more you donate. So by the time that you file for bankruptcy, why feel guilty, you probably save the lives of thousands, right? While fighting AIDS is a great cause, how much money is actually finding it way over to remote villages without power let alone a 7-11 on the corner to buy condoms at at 3 am.
Throwing donated money at AIDS research is not the best way to find a cure of a disease that can be prevented. Breast cancer on the other hand can't be prevented, so when I am grocery shopping during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a pink patina of labeling falls over all the store shelves, I don't have a second thought about shopping for a good cause.
AIDS research has been going on for almost a quarter century and where are we. The drugs to treat AIDS are developed and marketed by the same BIG pharmaceutical companies that coat the airwaves with drug advertising that tell us what to do in case of a four hour erection. (ironic, huh) There is already a profit motive to treat AIDS and big pharma is getting there without your cell phone that you charged to your AMEX.
Lets say that you want to do some AIDS research. Well, hire a PhD. for six figures to lead a team of researchers who aren't cheap either. Put together a laboratory, which are built on prime real estate and not in a trailer park. Spend 10's of thousands of dollars on lab equipment, computers and proprietary software. Spend months and months gathering info, doing interviews and when you are all done put your research in a nice binder and pass it around to other researchers and maybe even get it published.
BIG FUCKING WASTE OF MONEY! How many condoms can that buy? Oh I don't know, enough to fill up a couple of C130's, and carpet bomb most of Sub-Saharan Africa with latex! Condoms stop AIDS, education stops AIDS, not air conditioned offices in well manicured business parks. Leave the research to big Pharma. You can throw $10 million dollars at some physics grad students to study time travel or the Bermuda triangle and when they are all done they will give you the same answer as AIDS researchers. "The research we did gave us valuable insights and help build a foundation for further research"
If Motorola really wants to come up with a phone that can help stop AIDS in Africa they should come up with one that holds a few condoms or will vibrate for 5 minutes straight.
So next time you find that your social conscience is being bombarded by Madison Avenue take a second look and think about who is actually being helped.