Do I have your attention?
Starting today, big celebrity names including Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Kim Kardashian, and Serena Williams will stage their “digital deaths” as part of the Buy Life effort to raise money and awareness around World Aids Day. They’ll go silent on Twitter and Facebook until $1MM is raised on behalf of Alicia Keys’ charity, Keep a Child Alive.
I’m really excited about this campaign, not only because of the star power, but because of its innovative use of social media and mobile technology. We’re always trying to get celebrities to tweet on behalf of our campaigns, but Buy Life takes it to another level, and withholds the celebrity presence. The “digital deaths” are announced with dramatic images of celebrities lying in coffins as well as “last tweet and testaments” (here’s Ryan Seacrest signing off on YouTube). These tactics will surely drum up buzz among the celebs’ millions of fans, who will in turn be encouraged to buy back the celebs’ digital lives.
Of course, the true purpose of the campaign is not just to get Kim Kardashian or Ryan Seacrest tweeting again. Upon a closer look, Buy Life’s star-studded lineup and “digital death” stunt give voice to the very real message that you can indeed buy life. By making a donation to Keep a Child Alive, you help buy the supplies, medicine, education, and support needed to prolong life and make a difference for the millions who are affected by HIV/AIDS. To this end, Buy Life makes donations easy using the technologies we’re already using, and usually carrying in the palm of our hands.
You can make a donation online at BuyLife.org or via cell phone by texting “BUYLIFE” to 90999. Many are now familiar with the latter form of donating, especially following Haiti earthquake fundraising efforts (per Red Cross, a staggering 3 million plus texted “Haiti” to 90999 to donate $10). Although online donating will probably account for a good portion of this campaign’s fundraising, I think many people like me will opt for a quick and easy text message.
Interestingly, the Buy Life campaign also employs a lesser known method of donating via cell phone through the use of barcodes. The barcodes will be featured on campaign materials such as t-shirts and outdoor advertising that can be scanned with smartphone apps WiMo and Stickybits. It sounds like fun, especially if the barcode is on your friend’s t-shirt, but it’s not quite as instant as the text option (you must get the app, input credit card information, etc) and it only works on smartphones. That said, it’s a cool technology and there may be advantages to the barcode method (no $10 maximum donation for example). I’m not totally convinced just yet, but will be keeping tabs on the Buy Life barcode program and any others that give it a try.
Overall, I think Buy Life is a smart and compelling campaign, one that will have social media fanatics, the celeb-obsessed and social marketers talking. It’s already making a splash in the news, and I’m really interested to see how and when they reach their goal. I for one do not think Lady Gaga and her cohorts will be “dead” for long. I’m placing my bet on $1,000,000 in 1 Day. How long do you think it will take to raise a million? Are you donating and if so how did you donate?