Alicia Keys poses in a coffin for a World AIDS Day to say she is digitally dead until $1 million is raised for her foundation, Keep A Child Alive.
ON Wednesday, Kim Kardashian is going to die a little. So is her sister, Khloé, not to mention Lady Gaga, David LaChapelle, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Serena Williams and Elijah Wood.
That day is World AIDS Day, and each of these people (as well as a host of others — the list keeps growing) will sacrifice his or her own digital life. By which these celebrities mean they will stop communicating via Twitter and Facebook. They will not be resuscitated, they say, until their fans donate $1 million.
“Dry your eyes, everybody,” Ryan Seacrest, the “American Idol” host and another participant in this cyberstunt, says in a videotaped “Last Tweet and Testament” that will be posted on his Facebook profile — and appended to a final post on Twitter — sometime after midnight on Tuesday night. “I don’t plan to be dead for too long.”
He adds, “Please buy back my life.”
“Come on, y’all,” the actress Jennifer Hudson says in a similar videotaped plea. “Buy my life back. Go on a shopping spree and buy as much of it as you can.”
It’s all part of the latest gambit by the singer-songwriter Alicia Keys to raise money for her charity, Keep a Child Alive, which finances medical care and support services for children and families affected by H.I.V. and AIDS in Africa and India.
On Sept. 30, Ms. Keys and her charity’s co-founder, Leigh Blake, started Buy Life, which sells $35 gray T-shirts imprinted with a bar code. People who have uploaded a Stickybits or Wimo application to their smartphones can donate $10 to Keep a Child Alive simply by scanning any Buy Life T-shirt’s bar code.
“This Shirt Fights AIDS,” the shirts say on the back. “Scan the bar code or Text ‘BUYLIFE’ to 90999 to Join the Fight.”
The planned “Digital Death” this week will take that idea a step further. Famous people with lots of friends, fans and followers will go silent online, but not before calling for an outbreak of generosity. The participants are believed to have nearly 29 million fans on Twitter alone.
And as of Sunday, three days before World AIDS Day, stylized full-color photographs of celebrities lying in coffins, seemingly lifeless, with eyes closed, are to be displayed on the Buy Life Web site.
“Kim Kardashian is DEAD,” says the text that accompanies one of those photos, which features the reality-show star in a low-cut sequined burial outfit that suggests she “died” after a night out clubbing. “Kim sacrificed her digital life to give real life to millions of others,” it adds, asking fans to “visit Buylife.org or text ‘KIM’ to ‘90999’ to buy her life now.”
The strategy here is not just to shock people into paying attention but to enable them to give by doing, as Ms. Keys puts it, “what you always do.”
“You’re always texting your friends,” she says. “Now, you’re going to text to Buy Life.”
All that fans have to do is text the first name of the celebrity they’re “mourning” to 90999, and $10 will be donated.
“It’s a really instant way of grabbing their compassion,” Ms. Blake says.