Keeping our eyes and ears open…..

Avon 3-Day

Information from: Samantha King, Pink Ribbons Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy (2006), pp. 52-58

Similar to the Race for the Cure, the Avon 3-day walk includes inspirational ceremonies, pit stops for snacks and drinks, wellness areas, and booths for corporate sponsors. Since it is a multi-day event covering sixty miles it also includes a tent village with hot meals, showers, and nightly entertainment.

The first Avon 3-Day walk took place in 1998 when participants walked from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. Until 2002 –when the Avon walk encompassed 13 cities– the event was produced by a controversial for-profit firm called Pallotta Teamworks, the company that created the now defunct AIDS Ride.

The staging of the Avon walk was expensive. Of the total funds raised in the first event 36 percent went to administrative costs that included production fees to Pallotta. As breast cancer organizations got wise to the high administrative costs, inefficient use of funds, and questionable benefit of the event an Alliance of organizations pressed Avon in 2001 to make changes. Avon listened. It severed ties with Pallotta in 2002, and the company declared bankruptcy shortly thereafter.

Oddly, the Komen Foundation bought Pallotta’s assets and hired the company’s former employees, who had obtained the rights to the 3-day logo. Komen then produced its own three-day breast cancer walk, and it looked very similar to Avon’s. In 2003, Pallotta’s former employees formed a new company known as CauseForce and took its format to Canada and England where it produced other weekend walks.

This series of transactions, from Avon’s decision to leave Pallotta but to keep the walk, to the Komen Foundation’s decision to buy Pallotta’s assets and establish a rival walk (when it already hosts a major series of events), to the movement of the template to new national markets, further highlights the extent to which fund-raising for breast cancer has developed into a highly competitive market in which large foundations and corporations compete with one another to attract the loyalty of consumers who in this case are well-intentioned members of the public who wish to do their part in the fight against the disease.

–King, S. p. 58

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