KomenWatch

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Tag Archives: cause marketing

The powerful problem of pink

Title: The powerful problem of pink; Victoria’s branding secret may be colour-based, but when it backfires, it isn’t pretty. Just ask Lego

Authors: Francine Kopun

Publication: The Toronto Star

Publication Date: February 14, 2012

…KFC had a larger public relations problem on its hands in 2010, when it teamed up with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the organization behind the pink ribbon campaign for breast cancer awareness.

During the campaign, KFC changed the colour of its iconic bucket from red to pink, temporarily lit its headquarters pink, and repainted a Louisville restaurant. The Colonel Sanders look-alike who represents the company traded in his white suit for a pink version to complete the brand’s temporary transformation.

The result was the single largest donation in the history of Susan G. Komen for the Cure – $4.2-million raised by 5,000 restaurants in the United States. The funds were used for local breast cancer education, screening and treatment, but the campaign provoked ridicule and lingering criticism.

“Raising money in the name of breast cancer research, while engaged in a partnership with a corporation that may very well be contributing to this disease, is pink-washing in its most egregious form,” according to Think Before You Pink, an organization launched in 2002 due to concerns about the growing number of pink ribbon products on the market.

It accused KFC of targeting low-income communities with a product containing carcinogens and fats linked to heart disease and breast cancer.

The campaign was not repeated…

Link to Full Article

Detailing the problems of ‘breast cancer culture’

Title: Detailing the problems of ‘breast cancer culture’

Author: Anna Holmes

Publication: The Washington Post

Publication Date: February 09, 2012

…Although the mainstreaming of breast cancer activism and awareness is a triumph of marketing and outreach, its ubiquity has come at a cost – or depending on your point of a view, a profit – in the form of hundreds if not thousands of new or retooled consumer products. Cars, makeup, vacuum cleaners, stuffed animals, NFL and MLB apparel . . . all these and more have, at one point or another over the past few decades, been slapped with a fresh coat of (pink) paint and the imprimatur of any number of breast cancer charities, including Komen and the other behemoth in the breast cancer space, the Avon Foundation…

pink ribbons, pink ribboned-consumer goods and associated runs, walks and jumps “for the cure” have become so commonplace and therefore benign that we hardly notice them; we’re anesthetized to this major killer of women to the point that it’s almost accepted as a rite of passage, not a profoundly painful experience. The color has been promoted as fashionable, a shorthand for a sort of optimism and positivity – what [Samantha] King calls the “tyranny of cheerfulness” – that threatens to obscure much of the justifiable grief, frustration and fear that accompany the epidemic, not to mention the hypocrisies of the companies who benefit from it…

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Komen executive quits as questions persist

Title: Komen executive quits as questions persist

Author: Shari Roan, Eryn Brown

Publication:  Los Angeles Times

Date: February 07, 2012

…The injection of abortion politics into the mission of fighting breast cancer has prompted thousands of Komen supporters to reevaluate the nonprofit group that encouraged them to wear pink ribbons, participate in 5K fundraising races and buy products from companies that pledged to donate some of the proceeds to the charity.

Many of them now say they are uncomfortable with the size of the foundation’s executive salaries, lawsuits against smaller nonprofit groups, partnerships with companies whose products may increase breast cancer risk and lack of investment in research to prevent and treat the disease.

“The Planned Parenthood controversy is just the culmination of things that have been happening for a while,” said Samantha King, a professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, and author of the book “Pink Ribbons, Inc.”

Komen officials did not respond to requests to discuss the matter Tuesday….

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Susan G. Komen for the Cure® – No More Apologies!

Title:  Susan G. Komen for the Cure® – No More Apologies!

Author: Nancy Stordahl

Publication:  Nancy’s Point blog

Publication Date: August 12, 2011

There has been a lot of discussion recently in the blogosphere about Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. I believe the rumblings are starting to be heard. Now the question is will Komen begin to listen? Like I’ve always told my students, there is a huge difference between hearing and listening.

For the record, Komen describes itself as,

—the world’s largest and most progressive grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists – the only grassroots organization fighting to cure breast cancer at every stage, from the causes to the cures and the pain and anxiety of every moment in between.

Komen’s stated mission is:

to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find the cures.

Like many bloggers, I’ve been thinking about this organization of late and how it seems to have failed in the above stated mission.

But this particular post isn’t really about that success or failure.

Mostly, what I want to address today is why I have felt so uncomfortable criticizing Komen in the past.

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How Do You Spell Chutzpah: Komen

Title: How Do You Spell Chutzpah: Komen

Author: Barbara Brenner

Publication: Healthy Barbs blog

Publication Date: July 28, 2011

Yiddish is a very expressive language, a blend of Hebrew and German used by Jews in Europe when they lived in shtetls. One of my favorite Yiddish words is chutzpah. The word has taken on some positive connotations, but I’m using it here in the sense of the Hebrew source word, where it means someone who has overstepped the boundaries of accepted behavior with no shame.

Chutzpah has the benefit of being both expressive, and relatively easy to pronounce, (unless you’re Michelle Bachmann). It is also a very apt description of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation’s recent move to sponsor October as Breast Cancer Action Month.

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Hold Your Noses: Pink Has A Smell

Title: Hold Your Noses: Pink Has A Smell

Author: Gayle Sulik

Publication: Pink Ribbon Blues blog

Publication Date: June 17, 2011

Susan G. Komen for the Cure®’s new fragrance Promise Me has more than a few people up in arms about the lengths this nonprofit organization (or perhaps more appropriately termed, nonprofit corporation), will go to guarantee its position in the breast cancer marketplace. The organization technically is in the business of ending breast cancer not hawking pink ribbon product lines. If it worked as it should, achieving its mission would render the organization and its increasing number of branded products obsolete.

This irony is not lost on a growing number of individuals and organizations taking aim at what they believe to be seriously misdirected activities. Komen’s corporate partnership last October with consumer products investor and operator, TPR Holdings, only invigorated discontent. TPR’s targeted investments include “scalable mass and prestige opportunities in health, beauty and  wellness categories.” Together, Komen and TPR envisioned “a union of beauty and charity” that took the form of a scalable, mass-produced, prestige item specifically designed for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, a fragrance called Promise Me. The perfume was released in April, given as a complimentary sample to prospective beauty bloggers and reviewers, and is slated to remain on the market for six months “with new editions launching each year.”

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Pastel Injustice: The Corporate Use of Pinkwashing for Profit

Title: Pastel Injustice: The Corporate Use of Pinkwashing for Profit

Authors: Amy Lubitow and Mia Davis

Publication: Environmental Justice

Publication Date: June 17, 2011

This article discusses the importance of recognizing pinkwashing, the practice of using the color pink and pink ribbons to indicate a company has joined the search for a breast cancer cure and to invoke breast cancer solidarity, even when the company may be using chemicals linked to cancer. This article argues that pinkwashing is a form of social injustice directed at women in the United States because the practice a) provides a vehicle for corporations to control the public experience of breast cancer, while simultaneously increasing profits and potentially contributing to the rising rate of the disease; b) obscures an environmental health discourse that recognizes the environmental causes of breast cancer; and c) co-opts or redirects women’s experiences of the disease by narrowly defining what is possible.

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Komen’s Wild Ride

Title: Komen’s Wild Ride

Author: Alicia C. Staley

Publication: wegoHealth blog

Publication Date: June 10, 2011

Dear Susan G. Komen for the Cure:

Stop. Just stop. I’ve reached the point where I’m embarrassed by you and all your branding efforts for the cure. I see tons of pink ribbons, plastered on everything from shampoo to lawn mowers and cat litter.  I’m beyond aware.  I’m frustrated.  I can no longer justify your breast cancer awareness campaigns to my friends that want to know why there’s no cure.  I’ve received more emails in the past week over at Awesome Cancer Survivor expressing exasperation at the breast cancer community than I care to count.  As a breast cancer survivor, I shouldn’t have to justify your behaviors.

When you launched your partnership with Kentucky Fried Chicken  (aka “Buckets for the Cure”), I excused your lapse of judgment.  I assumed it was a temporary slip, and you’d eventually focus your energies back on partnerships and alliances that aligned more closely with your stated goal of “For the Cure.”  You trumpeted the partnership, declaring KFC would make the largest one time donation of an estimated $8 million to Komen. The ultimate goal of the $8 million donation never materialized.  According to your own reports, you only took in $4.2 million.  Not pocket change by any stretch of the imagination, but only about half of what you were looking to grab. You are the self-proclaimed leader of the breast cancer community.  Where is your leadership?

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Cause Bandits: How Would Your Nonprofit Respond?

Title: Cause Bandits: How Would Your Nonprofit Respond?

Author: Jen Price

Publication: Advancing Impact

Publication Date: June 7, 2011

There has been much controversy surrounding Susan G. Komen for the Cure recently. So much so, that the criticism has founded an organized movement.

People are joining together over “mounting concerns about Komen’s organizational leadershiptrademark feuds, corporate partnerships and branding activities, pinkwashinglimited successes, and unbalanced program allocations. A critical mass of concerned citizens, many of whom had supported Komen over the years, are now asking whether the ends justify the means.”

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Susan G. Komen for the Cure Isn’t Curing Anything

Title: Susan G. Komen for the Cure Isn’t Curing Anything

Author: Amy

Publication: Just West of Crunchy blog

Publication Date: June 3, 2011

Susan G. Komen for the Cure isn’t curing anything. This is an organization I used to really support. I have a history of breast cancer in my family and the two naturally met. But the more I’ve learned about Komen, the more upset I’ve become at the way their organization works.

This isn’t going to be an exhaustive list of everything I find to be wrong with Susan G. Komen for the Cure [Komen, herein]. I’m going to touch on a few of the more egregious points and some of the things I’ve learned most recently. A lot of people have rosy Pink glasses on when it comes to Komen; today, I’m asking you to suspend whatever you believe about this nonprofit and think critically about them.  If you walk away still liking them, that’s fine. But I hope people will at least be open to the idea that this organization isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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