(RED), the AIDS charity that sells products from companies including Apple, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola and gives a portion to charity, over the weekend launched its first multi-channel mobile giving campaign timed around World AIDS Day (December 1) and the holiday shopping season.
The promotion prompts users to dial **RED on their mobiles, where they hear a brief message from Dutch mega-DJ Tiësto, who thanks them for helping in the fight against AIDS and informs them that he will send them a text. Once received, the text contains three links, which allow users with one click to either purchase Tiësto's newly launched electronic music compilation, Dance (RED) Save Lives, on iTunes; go to Gilt.com to purchase products from (RED) partners; or to sign up to donate to the charity.
A portion of the proceeds from the album and the products purchased on Gilt.com go to the charity, which was founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver. Tiësto also matched the first $100,000 that came in on World AIDS Day.
The campaign is (RED)'s first attempt at mobile marketing, according to Zach Overton, general manager with (RED). "(RED)'s audience is largely millennials and we wanted to speak to that audience with our campaign via social media," he said, noting that the charity has about 1 million Facebook fans and 1 million Twitter followers. The products sold, such as skateboards from Girl, and Mophie electronics, appeal to a hip, young audience as well.
"We wanted a call-to-action that was simple and engages people wherever they were, whether that was Times Square or a dance floor," Overton said. The call to dial **RED was also broadcast on a Times Square billboard this weekend, as well as at a series of dance parties at hotels in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. The **RED information was also embedded on napkins and cocktail glasses at these parties. Overton said it was too early to yet measure the results of the campaign, which will run through the holiday season.
The non-profit organization approached StarStar, the technology provider for the campaign, after it noticed a campaign for the NFL in November of last year, in which Verizon promoted its NFL mobile app on primetime television by urging people to dial **NFL. The campaign came together in a matter of weeks, timed for the holiday shopping season, which fits particularly well with the (RED) look of its website and products.
StarStar's app, compatible with all major U.S. mobile phone networks, plays upon ease-of-use as a selling technique. "It doesn't require any change in user behavior. There is nothing to download, type or text," said Joe Gillespie, CEO of StarStar.
Dialing a StarStar code from a mobile enables access to promotional content, apps, mobile websites, video, music, one-click purchasing, special deals, and social networking capabilities. The experiences can be customized in real time to location, mobile device, carrier type, or other specifications. "You can affix a ** to any marketing tool," Gillespie added.
StarStar has created programs for brands including Google, Lexus, UPS, L'Oreal, The Home Depot, Capital One, Dunkin' Donuts, The Red Cross, American Idol, ESPN, Ford, and Sports Illustrated.
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Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is a freelance writer based in Jersey City who frequently covers digital marketing, social media, tech startups, and venture capital. She has contributed to a wide range of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Red Herring, and Real Deals. Find her on Twitter at @mldamico.
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