Keeping our eyes and ears open…..

Corporate Purse

Not only did the Komen Foundation mobilize hundreds of thousands of individuals across the country to participate in Race for the Cure events during the 1990s, but it also successfully linked the cause of breast cancer to the purse strings of corporate America. It did so in large part by transforming popular discourses of breast cancer from images of death, deformity, and victimization to images of feminine triumph, strength, and beauty.

– p 138, The Biopolitics of Breast Cancer: Changing Cultures of Disease and Activism by Maren Klawiter (2008)

Linking brand names and consumer products to a disease associated with death and disfigurement seems “like the prescription for a marketing disaster,” as an article in the Wall Street Journal once put it, but that is exactly what happened to breast cancer. During the 1990s, the article continues, corporations discovered “that the strong emotions provoked by breast cancer [could] translate to the company’s bottom line.” As a result, breast cancer transformed into “a powerful selling tool” that leading corporations in fitness, fashion, and cosmetics industries “jockey[ed]” to attach names to…Breast cancer “hits that sweet spot in all modern American women where soap-opera fan and feminist meet.”

– p 135, The Biopolitics of Breast Cancer: Changing Cultures of Disease and Activism by Maren Klawiter (2008)


Mary Ann Swissler, “Compromised” (Oct. 23, 2003)

“Not surprisingly, the Komen Foundation has owned $162,843 in Brinker International stock during 2000, the only year for which records are available. The Foundation also owns stock in several pharmaceutical companies and in General Electric, one of the largest makers of mammogram machines in the world.”

Breast cancer activists have successfully recruited wealthy business executives with personal ties to the disease… Ralph Lauren, Ronald O. Perelman of Revlon, and Evelyn Lauder of Estee Lauder, to name but a few, have devised clever marketing strategies raise millions of dollars…As a result, many high-profile fund-raising events, such as the Komen Foundation’s “Race for the Cure” and the Avon corporation’s … “Breast Cancer 3-Day,” have an enormous corporate presence.

PR Newswire (Sep. 7, 2006) announced that the New Komen CEO, Hala Moddelmog, was most recently the CEO of Catalytic Ventures LLC, a company she founded to invest and consult within the foodservice and franchising arenas. Prior to that, she had more than 20 years of executive leadership in the quick service restaurant industry, where she was president of Church’s Chicken, a division of publicly-traded AFC Enterprises, making her the first woman to lead a global foodservice brand. Speaking of Moddelmog’s new role as CEO, Nancy Brinker states:

“Her successful track record with franchisees, which is greatly applicable to the unique affiliate model of the Komen foundation, combined with a great understanding of business, makes her the right person at the right time to lead significant future advances of this first class organization.”

Following Moddelmog’s resignation in 2009, Chairperson of Komen’s Board of Directors, Alexine Clement Jackson speaks about her successes:

“The organization is incredibly strong financially and operationally and is poised for tremendous growth.”

– p 260, The Breast Cancer Wars: Fear, Hope, and the Pursuit of a Cure in Twentieth-Century America by Barron Lerner, MD (2001)

Market-driven research fomented Avon’s Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade, one of the largest cause-related marketing programs in history…The company has estimated that publicity about the campaign has created ”700 million media impressions” — opportunities for people to read, watch or hear about Avon’s good works…”That is what this is all about…making a good and a lasting impression for our company,” [says Joanne Mazurki of Avon’s marketing.

– p 260, “Charity Begins at … The Marketing Meeting, The Gala Event, The Product Tie-In” by Lisa Belkin (1996), New York Times Magazine.

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