April 1, 2011
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Video: “What You Won’t See”
Starring: Nancy Brinker, CEO and Founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®
Date: June 23, 2010
Youtube videos have become the TV commercials of the digital age. This 32-second video clip of Nancy Brinker advertising the “behind-the-scenes” work of the Komen foundation is essentially the same thing. This particular clip represents something new for Komen in that it does not mention a promise to a dying sister and instead acknowledges the public visibility of Komen “t-shirts” and the relative invisibility of the inner workings of the organization. Brinker states that, people don’t see Komen’s hundreds of research grants, thousands of free screenings for low-income women, and millions of volunteers working [on something unspecified] late into the night all with the hope of someday making breast cancer itself invisible.
Interesting commentary given the numerous critiques and concerns raised in recent years about: Komen’s relatively small percentage research allocations; superficial approach to breast cancer education and awareness; and obsession with branding, corporate partnerships, and trademark issues. Could these concerns be the spark for Brinker’s half-minute response?
After decades of being seemingly untouchable, Komen is on the defensive. The organization has refocused its public relations exercises, cleaned its website, and made public statements like this one from Brinker. Unfortunately, there have been no in-depth responses to the valid concerns that continue to be raised about the organization’s:
- misrepresentation of the realities of the disease
- skewed program allocations
- ongoing misinformation about the role of mammograms and “awareness” as keys to the eradication of the disease
- lack of ethical review processes concerning corporate contributions and “pinkwashing”
- failure to cooperate with other breast cancer organizations
If Komen’s strategies have not reduced breast cancer incidence, rates of recurrence, or the number of deaths from metastatic disease, how will these same strategies work to “end breast cancer forever?” They won’t. They will only bring in money, pretty up the disease, create entertaining past-times for consumers, alienate the diagnosed who don’t fit Komen’s pretty pink model, divert resources from other organizations and research priorities, and yes, fortify the t-shirt industry. They won’t end the disease no matter how many commercials Nancy Brinker makes.
There’s still so much we still don’t see.
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