Microsoft and Dell very much want the world to know about their new line of (Product) Red PCs, benefiting the Global Fund, which provides AIDS treatment in Africa.
The rich and famous will get to hear about the product at this week's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, but the two companies also want the computer-buying masses to know what they are doing.
In the coming days, the new Dell XPS systems and a "red-ified" printer will start showing up at Best Buy, which will be the exclusive U.S. retailer of Dell's products, according to Dell global consumer marketing director Susan Kittleson. Then, a week from Sunday, the companies will launch a TV push, starting with the Super Bowl ad, to be followed by a significant print and broadcast campaign.
Kittleson said the idea to go Red came up last February, after Dell announced its efforts to be more green. Customers wanted the company to pursue other social efforts, with one poster to the company's IdeaStorm site suggesting it link up with (Product) Red.
The idea struck Dell as a good one. "We are really focused on allowing consumers to pursue their passions through technology," Kittleson said.
Microsoft already had a big (Product) Red supporter in Bill Gates, one of the effort's early backers. Gates had been looking for a way for Microsoft to get involved in the program.
It had already been beaten to the punch by Apple, which inked the rights to sell (Product) Red iPods. Companies that create a Red product typically sign a multiyear partnership which also gives them exclusivity for a particular category or region.
That means the future doesn't look so bright for a (Product) Red Zune. But now that Dell has the PC rights and Microsoft the software rights, it also means a Product (Red) Mac is equally unlikely, agreed Susan Smith-Ellis, CEO of Product Red, the 20-month-old effort launched by U2's Bono and Bobby Shriver.
Now a (Product) Red Xbox, that sounds intriguing, said Smith-Ellis, though Microsoft was quick to say it had no plans to announce in that area. Smith-Ellis said that global partners like Microsoft and Dell are helping the effort branch out beyond the United States and the U.K. into 30 countries across five continents.
"Their marketing budgets are significant, and they will help us build awareness for the Red project and the AIDS pandemic," she said.