Back in March, BCA re-launched the Think Before You Pink® blog to provide information and resources for those interested in shifting the dominant breast cancer narrative. One of our goals was to provide concrete tools that would help people start conversations with their friends, family and communities. As a result, I am excited to announce that we are finishing a “first draft” of our brand-new Think Before You Pink® toolkit. We’ll be offering a sneak peek next week, so stay tuned!
As a lead-in to the initial release of our toolkit, we thought that it would be interesting to revisit our campaign’s best known resource – our critical questions. We created these questions in response to the rise of breast cancer related cause marketing and the lack of transparency about how the generated revenue is spent.
In the years since we’ve started our campaign, we’ve seen a lot of changes: a number of organizations have adapted our questions, mainstream news outlets have reported on the unregulated (and sometimes problematic) use of the pink ribbon, and many companies have even started to disclose more information about their “breast cancer awareness” campaigns.
However, there’s still much work to be done.
The first of our questions is: How much money actually goes toward breast cancer programs and services?
In 2009, the Boston Globe ran an article with the following information:
“Research [has shown] that 79 percent of consumers would likely switch to a brand that supports a cause, all other things being equal. People want to buy from companies that appear to do good deeds. In one test conducted by Cone and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, shampoo aligned with a cause saw a 74 percent sales increase over the same brand without a cause.”
Donations to breast cancer organizations still pale in comparison to profits. Just last year, Reebok marketed an entire line of pink ribbon apparel and accessories, with prices ranging from $50-$100. However, they set a “cap” on the proceeds that they would donate to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade: $750,000. One wonders how much money they made by “linking” themselves to the breast cancer epidemic.
Similarly, Yoplait requires participants in its “Save Lids to Save Lives” campaign to either mail lids to the company or enter a code online to donate a whopping 10 cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Why not donate a significant portion of overall sales instead? Hmm.
It gets worse: a quick Google search yields a number of pink items without any apparent connection to breast cancer organizations at all.
These promotions are successful because people want to help end the breast cancer epidemic. They want action steps – and there are few provided.
With our advocacy and education work, we aim to provide more options. We hope that our toolkit will be helpful to this end. As always, we look forward to hearing your feedback!