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Jeremy Youde, ‘Ethical Consumerism or Reified Neoliberalism? Product (RED) and Private Funding for Public Goods’, New Political Science, 31(2) 2009: 201‒20.
Launched in 2006, the Product (RED) campaign claims to offer an innovative approach to raising funds for AIDS drugs in Africa: selling specially branded consumer goods and having the companies donate a portion of their proceeds from those products to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Its supporters call this a revolution in using consumer power for public good. Critics chastise the campaign for glossing over serious concerns about the international political economy and the consequences of increased consumption with celebrities and a shallow form of ‘activism’. Examining the arguments of the critics, this article argues that their claims are largely overstated and divorced from experience. Product (RED) may not necessarily represent a revolution in providing public goods, but it does offer a pragmatic solution to augmenting funds for AIDS treatment in Africa.