Bank of America, Bono to partner on Super Bowl Sunday to fight AIDS

adunn@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 23, 2014 

Bank of America is announcing a partnership with U2 frontman Bono that will raise millions of dollars with the rocker’s AIDS-fighting charity and likely give the Charlotte bank considerable buzz on Super Bowl on Sunday.

CEO Brian Moynihan and strategy and marketing officer Anne Finucane joined Bono to announce the partnership with the RED organization on Thursday while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Here’s how it will work: A commercial during the Feb. 2 Super Bowl will feature U2 performing a new single, “Invisible.” Bank of America will sponsor free downloads of the song on iTunes during the game and for a day afterward. For each download, the bank will give $1 to a global AIDS-fighting fund, up to $2 million.

Bank of America has committed to give $8 million more to the Global Fund over the course of the next two years. The RED organization partners with major brands to raise money for the fund to fight AIDS across the world.

The campaign marks a major milestone in the bank’s effort to move toward “active philanthropy,” as Bank of America calls it, and away from simply writing checks to charitable organizations.

It also will be a visible step into the viral social media spotlight for a bank that has spent the past few years digging out from thousands of delinquent mortgages and billions in legal settlements.

“My guess is that this will be exponentially bigger than anything we’ve done” on social media, Finucane told the Observer in a phone interview from Davos. Finucane said this will also be Bank of America’s first global charitable program outside the U.S.

The new campaign with Bono comes as Bank of America approaches what some analysts consider a turning point in its history. The bank reported last week that 2013 was its most profitable year since before the financial crisis. It signaled a shift from two years of cost-cutting and legal settlements to fundamental growth in its business.

Finucane said she did not consider the campaign a major turn of events and stressed that the bank has continued its philanthropic efforts throughout the economic downturn. But she said the message may resonate more now that Bank of America has gotten past what it believes to be the worst of its legal troubles.

“Without the noise of some of the financial issues or the litigation, our message becomes clearer,” Finucane said.

“There is no doubt that the trust in the industry and in our company was challenged some years ago, but we’ve seen progress over the past year or two from those lows. The window didn’t just open and we didn’t just begin. This has been a hard-earned effort for over four years.”

Bono and Moynihan are no strangers. The two appeared on the same stage at Georgetown University in November 2012 at an event promoting social enterprise. Bono called Moynihan “a very special man” and “a gentleman in a world where that quality isn’t always on tap.”

It was at that forum, Finucane said, that the seeds for this campaign were planted.

The bank and Bono have also worked together on a charitable venture that brings more music education to Irish schools.

Dunn: 704-358-5235; Twitter: @andrew_dunn

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