Keeping our eyes and ears open…..

Category Archives: Pink Products


Title: Ko-Mart.Org

Author:  Kathi Kolb

Publication:  The Accidental Amazon blog

Publication Date: May 26, 2011

“Support the Cure — Start Shopping”
So says the banner on a snazzy new website for “Promise Me” Perfume, the latest offspring of a corporate sponsorship between Susan G. Komen, the breast cancer fundraiser, and TPR Holdings LLC, a New York-based “operator in the consumer products industry[…investing in] scalable mass and prestige opportunities in health, beauty and wellness categories…and providing transition services for large consumer products companies including Shiseido Cosmetics and Procter & Gamble. TPR principals have founded and developed such international brands as ZIRH Men’s Skincare, John Varvatos Fragrances and French Connection Beauty.”  And now, TPR has latched onto that most marketable of brands, breast cancer.

Sometimes, I swear, these posts practically write themselves.  If there is actually anyone left on the planet, or at least in the United States, who is not aware that breast cancer is no longer merely a pernicious and incurable disease, but has in fact become a ubiquitous brand and a profitable marketing opportunity for manufacturers, then let me enlighten you.

Link to Full Article

The Scent of Exploitation

We learned recently of yet another corporate partnership at the nonprofit corporation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure ®. This one is with a consumer products and distribution company named TPR Holdings LLC.

Together, SGK and TPR will not find a cure for breast cancer, but they’ll do the next best thing; develop and launch a new product line called Promise Me, the first and only proprietary fragrance developed with Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.

The Promise Me website is beautifully designed to market the fragrance and related products. Against a sensual light plum background, the copy describing the new perfume is alluring:

New word alert: floriental. Perhaps a combination of floral and oriental? Not that it matters. The important thing is to tantalize women consumers with sophisticated femininity and a just a hint of sensuality and social conscience. Readers can take a leisurely scroll over interactive images of orchids and pink peonies to learn what the special perfume ingredients are meant to signify. Providing a sense of intimacy, we even hear a voice (perhaps that of perfumer Jean Claude Delville…) who reads the pop-up text for us.

The advertisement oozes inspiration and exquisite attention to detail all the way to the perfume bottle marked with SGK’s signature (and trademarked) running ribbon.

Designer Chad Lavigne was inspired by the iconic breast cancer ribbon which he weaved into the detail of the glass bottle. A beautiful collectible item, special attention to detail was paid to every facet of the design- from the tiers of signature pink to the reflective gold finishes.

Well-known French perfumer Jean Claude Delville speaks directly to the reader about the significance of the Promise Me fragrance.

Color us inspired! A fragrance designed to evoke the emotions of positive energy, hope and love! And a fragrance designed to generate sales for TPR Holdings and boost Komen’s public image and revenue stream. We learn on the “Susan G. Komen for the Cure ®” page that, “TPR Holdings will guarantee a minimum donation of $1,000,000 to Komen for breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment.” But it doesn’t stop there. Consumers who purchase the Promise Me fragrance will also get a free gift of Nancy Brinker’s new book, conveniently with the same name.

Promise Me tells the story of two sisters, Nancy G. Brinker and Susan G. Komen, their loving bond from childhood through adulthood, the cancer that took one sister’s life and threatened the other’s, and the promise between them that launched the global breast cancer movement, transforming and saving the lives of millions of women.

Komen’s continued forays into the world of corporate partnerships are looking more and more like the activities of a for-profit corporation interested in staying in business for the long haul. The attention paid to branding; the continued promotion of Komen and it’s founder, Nancy Brinker as the self-styled leader of the global breast cancer movement; the plethora of pink products ranging from dish towels to sporting goods to housecleaning items to food and beverage products to hardware and now, to perfume and cosmetics suggests that the SGK brand – the mother of all cause-related marketing brands – is now being sold as a pink ribbon lifestyle.

The breast cancer cause has moved beyond the oncology clinics, beyond the chemotherapy infusion rooms, beyond the radiation suites, beyond the surgical wards, beyond the shattered lives and grave markers of the fallen to be atomized into a fragrance, encapsulated in a pretty pink ribbon bottle — and all for the bargain price of $59.00 including the “free” copy of Nancy G. Brinker’s homage to her dead sister, Promise Me, the book.

But we shouldn’t be surprised at this latest iteration of Komen’s flashy marketing strategies. In a 2003 interview with Susan Orenstein of CNN Money, the head of sponsorships at Komen, Cindy Schneible, admitted openly:

“We’re sensitive to the fact that this is a marketing relationship, not a philanthropic relationship.”

A peek into some of Komen’s corporate sponsorship materials reveals the SGK marketing philosophy in greater detail. In describing the benefits to becoming a corporate sponsor of their San Francisco Race event Komen’s brochure states;

Based on your level of sponsorship, your company may:

  • Receive high visibility before the event and on Race day
  • Reach thousands of decision makers and consumers in the 9 counties of the SF Bay Area through exposure on our website, eBlasts, race applications, posters and other materials
  • Test-market and showcase products
  • Build employee morale and company pride
  • Associate with one of the most renowned movements to fight breast cancer and align yourself with the largest and most progressive grassroots network of breast cancer survivors
  • Increase company and brand integrity by partnering with a cause that impacts millions of people locally and globally
  • Retain and increase customer and client loyalty – consumers have a more positive image of a company associated with a good cause

The message is clear. Piggybacking off of Komen’s branded pink ribbon cause is an effective form of advertising for any company that is willing to pay the price of admission: a large donation to Komen and the mandatory perpetuation of the SGK story-line.

Geoff Livingston, noted social enterprise strategist and author of Now Is Gone stated recently on his blog that money-grabbing strategies such as Komen’s actually run counter  to their mission:

Non-profits are not in business to make money. They are a business to be sure, but unlike a for-profit, which seeks to dominate markets and yield profits, a cause or social enterprise seeks to provide a solution. When a for-profit business is successful, it keeps its doors open for years and expands and keeps looking for more market share. When a non-profit is successful it should close its doors because its business – or mission – has been completed.

Where’s Komen’s plan to complete its mission and close its doors? How does creating a new product line to sell $59.00 bottles of signature perfume provide a solution to the problem of breast cancer? Livingston asks, and rightly so:

Are you competing just to raise the most money? Competing in the sense that a cause seeks to beat out its competition helps no one. It actually hurts the cause space by creating distractions and wasted resources.

Komen’s words and actions speak loudly: A pseudo-corporation intent on keeping itself in business by marketing pink lifestyle products under the global brand of breast cancer. Don’t miss the next SGK commercial on the Home Shopping Network; Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker To Appear Live on HSN To Debut Exclusive New Promise Me Gift Set Benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. The scent of inspiration? More like the stench of breast cancer marketing.

KomenWatch grants full permission to republish our editorials in their entirety, with proper citation and link.

Citation for this editorial: KomenWatch. (2011, May 18). The Scent of Exploitation. Retrieved from http://www.komenwatch.org/.

Seeing Red In Pink Products: One Woman’s Fight Against Breast Cancer Consumerism

Title: Seeing Red In Pink Products: One Woman’s Fight Against Breast Cancer Consumerism

Author: Joan Raymond

Publication: Newsweek

Publication Date: October 13, 2009

I just redeemed a coupon from P&G for a Swiffer. For my effort, two cents will be given to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I would have to buy 500 Swiffer wet thingies to make a $10 donation. But I needed a Swiffer anyway. And two cents is better than nothing. So why not use the coupons that were inserted into my newspaper?

Because, says Barbara Brenner, the executive director of Breast Cancer Action, a nonprofit  watchdog group headquartered in San Francisco, buying pink products has little to do with helping cure and treat breast cancer. Says Brenner: “Everyone has been guilt-tripped into buying pink things. If shopping could cure breast cancer it would be cured by now.”

Well, I wasn’t particularly “guilted,” just out of some basic necessities. And hey, two cents is two cents.

But Brenner says consumers need to strip off their pink-tinted glasses.

Link to Full Article

La vie en rose

Title: La vie en rose

Author: Vicky Frost

Publication: guardian.co.uk

Publication Date: June 8, 2007

Not so long ago, pink was a colour reserved for little girls. It was the colour of Barbie and bubblegum, of plastic tat that parents were pestered into buying, of pre-teen bedrooms and pocket-money accessories.
Then, suddenly, it was everywhere – and being targeted at grown women. Next month, for instance, sees the launch of Fly Pink, a “boutique airline designed especially for women” which plans to operate from Liverpool’s John Lennon airport. The airline will offer flights to Paris for “shopping breaks” in customised pink planes, and, to complete the experience, will also provide pink champagne and complementary manicures before take-off.

Which just underlines the fact that it is now possible for women to experience their entire day in pink. You can work out with a pink yoga mat and weights; adorn your windscreen wipers with pink wiper wings; cook dinner on a pink George Foreman grill and style your hair with hot-pink hair straighteners. You can even see off would-be attackers with a powder-pink Taser gun.

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Pinklash! / October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As More Companies Pitch Pink Products, Questions Arise About The Commercialization Of The Cause.

Title: Pinklash! / October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As More Companies Pitch Pink Products, Questions Arise About The Commercialization Of The Cause.

Author: Heidi Benson

Publication: SFGate.com

Publication Date: October 22, 2006

From shocking-pink Everlast boxing gloves to a candy-striped Vera Wang mattress, from a pink Delta 757 to pink-frosted Oreos, everything but the leaves on the trees turns pink in October, when stores overflow with pink-ribbon products for sale and online promotions promise donations to breast cancer research.

The Hard Rock Cafe is even serving a special Pink Sunset cocktail this month — “with a lime twist in the shape of a breast cancer ribbon floating on top.”

When National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was started in 1984, it helped open a public dialogue about a disease that kills more than 40,000 women a year. Since then, hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised to fund breast cancer research, education and medical services.

But today, there’s a growing “pinklash,” made up of critics who fear that pink has become just another marketing tool. Some critics are put off by such pitches as “Eat a Gummy Bear, Save a Life.” Others bristle at the mere notion of “Shopping for the Cure.”

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The dark side of pink; Buying a sponsoring product doesn’t mean a bonanza for breast cancer research (Abstract Only)


Title: The dark side of pink; Buying a sponsoring product doesn’t mean a bonanza for breast cancer research

Author/Byline: Unknown

Publication: Philadelphia Daily News

Publication Date: October 18, 2006

AREN’T YOU about sick of pink right now?

I love the color. But it’s everywhere. Stores are selling pink vacuum cleaners, pink Peppermint Patties, pink Serta mattresses, pink hammers and evenpink cans of Campbell Soup – all to benefit various breast-cancer-related charities.

There’s even a Pink Ribbon Barbie.

Many products that aren’t completely pink have the pink breast cancer logo or some other designation announcing that a portion of the proceeds from sales will go to benefit breast cancer efforts. Panera Bread, for instance, is selling ribbon-shaped bagels to benefit the Ellie Fund.)

Although I applaud the altruism of corporate America, I can’t help but be a little suspicious. It’s easy to put a pink ribbon on something and claim a product is being sold to benefit a breast-cancer charity.

Often, the companies’ efforts are commendable. The Susan G. Komen Foundation, for instance, lists on its Web site 22 $1 million corporate sponsors.

But activists warn there are some companies whose pink products benefit charities only loosely related to the cause. Some companies promise a lump sum, regardless of how much product they sell.

And then there are all those companies that contribute only a small percentage of the proceeds from the sale of their pink products. In other words, things aren’t always as rosy as they seem in pink land.

“If [consumers] read the small print on these products, for the most part, their individual purchases will raise very little money,” pointed out Samantha King, author of the new book “Pink Ribbons, Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy.”

And as Barbara Brenner of Breast Cancer Action pointed out during a recent conversation, “Somebody has to ask, ‘Where is all this money going?’ ”




Pink Ribbon Promises

Title:  Pink Ribbon Promises

Author: Stacie Stukin

Publication:  Time Magazine

Publication Date: October 8, 2006

This past March, Barb Jarmoska and 21 other women over the age of 50 set out from San Diego on a cross-country bike trip to raise money for breast-cancer research. Their goal was to arrive in St. Augustine, Fla., in two months’ time after pedaling through eight states. Each woman paid for her own trip and picked her own breast-cancer charity. For Jarmoska, it was the perfect way to pay homage to two dear friends she had lost to the disease, while fulfilling a lifelong desire to bike across the U.S.
But when she began researching which charity to support, Jarmoska felt overwhelmed. Numerous organizations sponsored walks, runs and bike trips. Even more were pitching pink-ribbon products and promotions with a promise that a portion of sales would support a breast-cancer cause. Jarmoska was stunned by the profusion of pink cosmetics, jewelry, teddy bears, blush wines, blenders, candles and paper products. “I realized breast cancer had become the poster child of corporate cause-related marketing campaigns,” she says. “With so many companies involved, my suspicion was that the motive was not always entirely pure.”

Link to Full Article

Breast cancer group questions value of pink ribbon campaigns

Title: Breast cancer group questions value of pink ribbon campaigns

Author: Daniel S. Levine

Publication: San Francisco Business Times

Publication Date: October 2, 2005

Barbara Brenner is seeing red over pink. Brenner is executive director of Breast Cancer Action, a San Francisco advocacy group known within the nonprofit world as the “bad girls of breast cancer.”

That’s not to say Brenner calls National Institutes of Health Director Elias Zerhouni at three in the morning to ask him if his refrigerator is running.

Instead, what has won that moniker for the organization is its willingness to ask questions, often of the impolite sort, and encourage others to do the same.

With Breast Cancer Awareness Month upon us, consumers are being inundated with products bearing pink ribbons and a promise that a purchase will help support the fight against breast cancer.
All during October, you can eat, drink and do whatever follows biologically to help the fight against breast cancer. Quilted Northern Ultra toilet paper donates 50 cents for every proof of purchase collected and mailed in from specially marked pink ribbon packages.

Other products sporting pink ribbons include golf balls, umbrellas, pencil sharpeners, grills, watches, wine, jewelry, paint, candy, soda, pens, iPod cases, shower gel, mixers and even pink-colored Tic-Tacs.
Aside from worries that such marketing efforts trivialize the disease and that companies do a poor job of explaining how their donations will be used to fight breast cancer, Brenner believes so-called “cause marketing” is more about marketing than cause.

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