Apple Moves The Needle (Somewhat) With HIV Phone:

Marketing Masterstroke or Mistake?

This week Apple unveiled a new, red version of the iPhone 8 called (Product)RED. Check out the spot here:

This line of special edition, rich crimson iPhones are different to their silver, black, and gold counterparts in that, a portion of profits is donated to (RED) that is an organisation which aims to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

Apple partnered with (RED) back in 2006 and has contributed over $160 million to non-profit AIDS organization, The Global Fund. Apple’s contribution is more than the governments of Greece, Hungary, Iceland, New Zealand and Switzerland have given, combined … but is also 0.016% of Apple’s estimated valuation.

During this 11 year period, Apple has made a concerted effort to show AIDS as an important issue, by turning their Apple Stores red, assisting (RED) with app developers, and now, releasing a suite of red products, from Apple Watch bands, to iPhone cases, headphones and even speakers.

Apple states that their partnership with (RED) aims to eliminate the threat of HIV/AIDS in Africa through “programs that provide counselling, testing and medicine that prevents the transmission of HIV from a mother to her unborn child”.

(RED) CEO Deborah Dugan says that “the (HIV) stigma is so strong worldwide” and when sufferers see someone with the (RED) products, they “start talking to them and they know they can come out and then say they have HIV.”

Apple’s commitment to (RED) and the HIV cause is evidently strong, so it must be asked, why did they fail to mention (RED) or even HIV in this commercial. Even stranger than this, when making a purchase in their online store, there is no mention of the partnership. You have to seek the information out.

The reasons for this are entirely unclear.

Likewise, it’s unclear as to how much money goes to the Global Fund.

Apple has stated that, 100% of A PORTION from every (RED) product sale goes directly to the Global Fund … how’s that for spin!

Moreover, it’s safe to assume that this exercise in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is also a marketing exercise to keep the iPhone 8 fresh, after being overshadowed for months by the iPhone X.

And admittedly, this strategy works!

For those globally-minded people who have recently contemplated buying a new iPhone, this Ferrari-red model will surely speed along the process, with thousands more destined to race off the shelves.

The impact of CSR on revenue can be huge, with 64% of consumers in Asia-Pacific saying that they’re willing to pay more for products from companies that have positive social and environmental policies.

On this front, Apple is remarkably savvy.

Like every other Apple ad, it’s slick, swanky and has a killer soundtrack. But in terms of its effectiveness, failing to mention (RED) and HIV was a colossal mistake.

The partnership allowed them the opportunity to have a deep, emotional connection with consumers, and they didn’t leverage this opportunity.

So, for this reason alone, it’s a

Marketing Mistake


Follow us on Facebook & Instagram to stay up to date with our weekly installments. Oh, and let us know what you thought of this commercial …




Written By: Joshua Britt