Earlier this week, U2 frontman Bono was one of several guest speakers at the annual Cannes Lions festival. Originally, the perpetually-shaded rock god was there to discuss how brands and marketers could assist in creating the first AIDS-free generation by becoming involved with his global nonprofit, (RED). However, as Billboard points out, Bono instead used the talk to launch a surprise attack against (RED)’s partner Apple for their lack of promotional support.
Making the entire ordeal all that more awkward was the fact that Jony Ive, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design, was seated literally on stage. “One of the reasons it’s such a credit to have Jony Ive on the stage is because Apple is so fucking annoyingly quiet about the fact they’ve raised $75 million,” said Bono. “Nobody knows!”
From there, Bono further proved his point by pulling out an official (RED) iPad cover, noting that the singular (RED) logo on the inside is perpetually obscured by the tablet itself. “Where’s the (RED) branding?” Bono said. “Nobody can see that. This is modesty run amok. This is the Apple way. They’re like a religious cult.”
Bono added, “The idea that we might get close to an AIDS-free generation, and then not get there, and for what? Because the heat isn’t on the issue. You’re (Apple) about heat. You’re a sort of thermostat for the world.”
Since he just so happened to be there, Apple’s Ive responded to the singer’s claims. “We started in 2006 with one (RED) product, a Nano, and now we’ve got well over half a dozen,” Ive said. “It’s been really, really special for us.”
Regardless, Bono wasn’t exactly swayed by Ive’s argument, and thus he began fielding audience members for their own (RED)-centric product ideas and brand initiatives. “The people in this room could really figure this shit out,” Bono added.
Among the more savvy audience members to jump at the chance was Michael Trautmann, co-founder of German agency thjnk. Trautmann pitched the idea of “new website top-level domain (like .com) called .hiv, with registration fees going to AIDS charities.” He even offered Bono the Red.hiv domain free of charge for the first 100 years.
The partnership between (RED) and Apple goes back over a decade. Apple was one of the foundation’s earliest supporters, creating a line of iPod nanos and shuffles, iPhone Bumpers, and various covers and cases for the iPhone 5s. As Mac Rumors points out, 100% of the $75 million Apple has raised in the last 10 years has gone directly to (RED).
Either way, (RED)’s partnership with Bank of America still seems to be going well. Back in February, Bono and Co. used the bank’s Super Bowl ad to launch “Invisible”, the first sample of their forthcoming Danger Mouse-produced 13th studio album. Replay the video below: