Tuesday, May 23, 2006


In his never-ending round of public appearances promoting himself, sorry, his AIDS campaign, Bono has posted to the Guardian's Comment Is Free blog explaining his decision to team up with The Gap, Nike, et al:

This is more hip-hop than indie. What does that mean? A certain generation who grew up wearing grey trenchcoats and crying into their beer about how daddy's bedsit wasn't big enough won't like this. But the generation that came through in the early 1990s under Soul II Soul, the Young Disciples and the British soul movement love it.

Big business is not bad. Big bad business is bad. It is strange that it took the continent of Africa to turn an activist onto commerce, but that's what Africans want now - to do business with us, to trade, to have dignity of labour. Of that, more later ... until you find the vaccine.

Interesting... if you find this cosying up to big business and unsettling, it's because you're indie. Is Bono really taunting us that we're not cool enough to feel happy about Nike making profits off the suffering of the poorest in the world?

It says a lot about Vox's social circles that he assumes anyone who lived in shitty accommodation was doing so at their familie's expense, doesn't it? Some of us lived in dodgy flats because our parents couldn't afford to help us out. Some people do make it on their own, you know, Vox.

And how stupid does Bono think we are? "It is strange that it took the continent of Africa to turn an activist onto commerce", eh? The implication here, of course, is that Bono had kept big business at arm's length and only overcame his distrust of the corporate world when he saw the opportunity to help Africa. It's a nice idea, but surely the Bono who was so close to uber-capitalist Warren Buffett, who owns great chunks of real estate in Dublin, who is part of a Wall Street financial company with people with connections to Enron didn't really need very much persuading to sign deals with The Gap and Nike. As Churchill once said, we've already established what you are, we're now just quibbling about your price.

Really the deal is this. These brands are prepared to share their profits with the Global Fund to Fight Aids in the hope that the association with Red will bring them to new and more loyal customers.

Or, as we suspect the company accountants have seen it - the brands are happy to redirect some of their marketing budget to the GFFA as an investment in their corporate image and future sales.

At certain price points a consumer usually has a few choices when it comes to t-shirts, trainers and mobile phones. A product Red partner, such as Gap or Nike, hopes it will give them something else: an emotional attachment. It may reflect the values they already have or the values they aspire to: we don't mind.

So, let's get this straight, Bono: you're using the thousands of Aids orphans around the world as leverage to allow people to feel more kindly towards Nike? And that's something you're not only happy to do, but feel you can offer as a moral positive?

All Red partners have high standards and work practices: if they didn't and were trying to hide something they would be very foolish to bring all this Red attention on themselves.

Oh, really? This would be, say, the Nike who have stolen the logo of Hackney one of the poorest boroughs in the UK and, when caught, didn't offer even an apology? Or the Nike which claims to have banned use of sweatshop labour, but seems uninterested in allowing independent verification?

Bono knows he's got a tough sell on his hands with this one, and he keeps trying, harder and harder to justify the scheme. Perhaps he should try the honest approach: "I'm a multi-millionaire businessman, and it makes sense for me to try and use my friends to solve the problems of the world, regardless of the ethical or moral dimension."


Anonymous said...

Good grief. I thought that nothing Bono said could make me hate that smug little cunt more than I already do. Turns out I was wrong.
How did you manage to type that entry Simon without combusting in teeth grinding rage?

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

I took a couple of walks round the block and deleted the first fifteen paragraphs.

Anonymous said...

It's an old story, but it still bears a re-read whne you're thinking about Nike's commitment to the poorest people in the world


Anonymous said...

Sorry, I say that again a little tinier...


Anonymous said...

What no one seems to have brought up yet, which is weird since there are all these pics of Bono being chummy with the heads of these multinationals, is whether he's a shareholder in any of these companies. Because that would mean that all this publicity would be partially in aid of making more money for himself, no?

Anonymous said...

You said "And how stupid does Bono think we are?"- very stupid indeed if he thinks any informed member of the general public will fall for this cobblers. Thank you for highlighting this man's real motives.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Bono is being dishonest here. I believe he genuinely thinks what he is saying is right, that he thinks he is really helping in the best way possible and that Nike et al are socially responsible firms. Along with 90% of the public he really doesn't care if his sneakers are made for 10c an hour in a Fillipino work camp, and has probably given it little thought. He's focussed on the twin thrusts of his life: helping Africa and himself. It probably hasn't entered into his ego-swollen brain that helping Africa by keeping Asians in poverty isn't really so morally defensible. (Or he could well buy the globalist apology that Nike are 'helping them' by providing jobs and raising living standards there)

His biggest disgrace is that he is pronouncing from on high about it so should have bothered checking and properly investigating the situation. But who reckons he would go to that length for what is basically another grandstanding position?

For the record (and I know it makes me a minority here) I've been a U2 fan for over 20 years. But Bono and his massive naive dumbness is really getting on my tits now. Fancy concentrating on making a consistent record for the first time this decade instead, pal?

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