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Posts tagged ‘pinkwash’

Pink Watch 3: Water, juice, and grown-up lemonade

November 3rd, 2010

Lisa Dawson

Mike's Hard Lemonade

My third Pink Watch post plunges into the world of beverages. Everyone knows water is essential to good health, but I’ve also included juice, iced tea, and an alcoholic beverage. The debate around alcohol and breast cancer could take up a whole series of posts on its own, and I’m just not going there right now (maybe later). I decided to include Mike’s because I was interested in what a relatively small, local company is doing to raise awareness for a disease that cost them a dear colleague. Read more

Pink Watch 2: Yogurt, cereal, shrooms and cheesy goodness

October 14th, 2010

Lisa Dawson

This is the second in a series of posts that take a closer look at some of the pink ribbon branded products in stores right now (last week’s post featured some unusual products). Nice to see another yogurt company entering the mix, also some good use of Facebook and MySpace in campaigns. Read more

Pink Watch: Unusual pink ribbon products

October 6th, 2010

Lisa Dawson

Car Freshner

October: Halloween. Football. And pink ribbon merchandise.

Ever wonder how much of the revenue from those pink ribbon branded products in the stores actually makes it to breast cancer programs? I do. About a week ago, I started snapping pictures and reading the packaging of products I run across to see if I could tell how much money is being donated to which organizations. As you can imagine, I’ve collected quite a few pictures.

The first in my “pink watch” series of posts features some products you wouldn’t typically associate with breast cancer. Please let me know if you see any unusual pink products out there… I’d love to add them to my list! Read more

Pink Products! Everywhere!

October 5th, 2010

Lisa Dawson

It’s October and you know what that means… we’re being inundated with pink!

A few months ago I wrote a post on pinkwashing, and have continued to be selective in my purchase of pink ribbon products. I have to admit, the sheer volume and variety of pink products worn by 3-Day walkers can generate some serious pink ribbon envy. Still, I had to wonder how much of the revenue from those products actually make it to breast cancer programs? I was thinking about this last weekend during a trip to Target and decided, just for fun, to stop and take pictures of the pink products I ran across, and read the packaging to see if I could tell how much money is being donated to which organizations.

Turns out there seem to be three primary beneficiaries of these programs – The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. For some reason I thought there’d be more. When the packaging didn’t spell it out, I figured I’d look online to see if there was more information on the company web sites. After digging a bit I was able to find some, even more so on two of the three non-profit organization sites (see below). On a lark, I decided to call or email several of the companies (including one very, very large company) and was pleasantly surprised at how responsive they were to my request for additional information.

That initial trip and a subsequent trip to the grocery store have generated enough photos for a series of posts that I’ll start tomorrow. I’m calling it PinkWatch, and would love suggestions for interesting products to feature.

Here are the non-profit partner links I found:


June 27th, 2010

Lisa Dawson

I bet everybody’s done it: Made a purchase in part because some of the proceeds went to a particular cause. I’ll admit to some pink kitchen gadgets, running gear, two lovely champagne flutes, and one of my favorite watches. It’s certainly not hard to find brands who’ve affiliated themselves with the pink ribbon and, presumably, breast cancer causes.

The subject of pinkwashing, or the exploitation of consumers’ emotional ties to breast cancer to sell pink ribbon-themed products, has caught my attention a few times over the years. The most recent debates were triggered by the Kentucky Fried Chicken “Buckets for the Cure” program, which intended to raise millions of dollars for Susan G. Komen for the Cure through the sale of a pink bucket of chicken. I’m not a huge KFC fan, and didn’t pay much attention beyond thinking it was as a bit of an odd partnership. But then it initiated a couple of pretty passionate threads among my Facebook friends, and I found myself thinking about pinkwashing a bit more.

My take on pink ribbon marketing campaigns, this one in particular, is pretty simple:

  1. This company is choosing to make a not-insignificant donation to a highly regarded organization through the sale of their product.
  2. Their customers will be exposed to information on breast cancer.
  3. As consumers, we should make informed decisions on the products we choose to buy – the operative word being choose.

The agreement with KFC called for a $1M guaranteed donation to Komen. That equals $250K for breast cancer programs in 120 US affiliate communities, and $750K for national research and community programs. According to the company’s website near the end of the program, that amount had almost been quadrupled to $3.7M. That comes over $900K to the affiliates and $2.8M to research. That’s a lot of money.

Money aside, I think people overlook another aspect of the partnership. Information on breast cancer was available in 5,000 restaurants, in thousands of communities across the US. I live in a large metropolitan area, and I’m used to seeing pink ribbons and breast cancer messaging in department stores and shops year-round. We have one of the most effective Komen affiliates here, and are the home to one of the country’s foremost cancer research centers, the Hutch. It’s hard to be unaware of breast cancer in Seattle.

But the same can’t be said for Mount Vernon. Or Aberdeen. Komen is a large organization, but it only has 120 chapters in the entire country. It just doesn’t have the resources to distribute breast cancer literature in every community, in every state. I know how hard it is for the Puget Sound Affiliate to reach the women in its 16-county service area, even with with its dedicated staff and volunteers. They’ve got their work cut out for them in trying to reach such a large geographic region. So I think of the number of impressions the breast cancer awareness message got through that particular program, through 5,000 KFC locations. It’s a lot.

As a part of a large corporation (Yum! Brands, Inc.), KFC certainly has a responsiblity to their shareholders to be profitable. But they also have a stated goal to be a responsible corporate citizen. I really want to give them the benefit of the doubt and consider that the program wasn’t entirely self-serving. Maybe they really do want to help out a cause, even if they are purveyors of deep-fried fast food.

There are some who don’t agree. The breast cancer watchdog group Think Before You Pink devoted a page to the KFC/Komen debate and raised many good points, ones that I think apply to any purchasing decision consumers make. In a nutshell, you should know who you’re buying from, and know where your dollars are going.

Informed consumers know buying a pink bucket of chicken for $15 isn’t going to make as big a dent as donating $15 to a breast cancer organization. But if you’re a KFC customer who was inclined to buy a bucket of chicken during the program, maybe you thought about breast cancer when you made your purchase. And maybe, just maybe, some of the research grants funded by the pink bucket will get us a little closer to a cure for breast cancer.