"A bit of jiu jitsu" is how Bono characterizes the process of introducing a new U2 song during Sunday's Super Bowl broadcast.
A video featuring the band performing Invisible, the track in question, will be featured in a commercial launching a partnership between (RED) — the non-profit organization co-founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — and Bank of America.
The spot will end by directing fans to a free download on iTunes. From 6 p.m. ET Sunday to 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Bank of America will donate one dollar for each download, up to a total of $2 million, to the Global Fund. (The song will no longer be available on iTunes as of Tuesday.)
"We're taking all the energy around the Super Bowl and interest in what U2's doing and flipping it," Bono explains, "into the fight against HIV AIDS."
Invisible is not, U2's frontman notes, the first official single from the group's long-awaited new album, expected later this year. "We have another song we're excited about to kick off the album," he says. "This is just sort of a sneak preview — to remind people we exist."
The track was chosen because "it's the first one we finished," Bono says, chuckling. The band has "lots and lots of songs" compiled, he adds, but will continue to work on the album "for a couple of months. We want it to come out this summer, but you don't want to let anyone down."
Bono says that (RED) wanted to collaborate with Bank of America in part "to tell Americans how extraordinary they've been in the fight against AIDS." The ONE Campaign, (RED)'s parent organization, has determined that nearly seven million lives have been saved by the USA's donations to the Global Fund and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), established under President George W. Bush.
"I'm not sure that American taxpayers know that, and it's worth for a moment noting how heroic the struggle has been. The seven million, they know, and they're very grateful. All over the continent of Africa, if you poll people, you'll find respect for the (USA) very high."
Anne Finucane, global strategy and marketing officer for Bank of America, says, "We saw in working with U2 the opportunity to engage and excite a consumer base with the band's music and with (RED)'s mission. Bono was very focused; he has applied the same rigor to this effort as I'm sure he does to his music."
The commercial went through several stages of development. "One plan was for us to go knocking on doors in the middle of America, thanking people for saving lives," says Bono. "But a couple of band members thought that might seem self-aggrandizing."
When his bandmates "agreed to give their song away," Bono was "amazed" — but not entirely shocked.
"They don't like to talk about it, but they gave $11 million of (U2)'s last tour to (RED)," he says. "They're big supporters. And I'm very proud of them for this."