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October 20, 2009

Think Before You Pink this October

So you might have noticed that we didn't "go pink for October" this year. It's not that we don't care about breast cancer, because we obviously do. It's just that the more we thought about the whole thing, the more we realized that it's important to care about breast cancer every month, not just in October. It's equally important not to get so caught up in the whole "pink ribbon" mania that you forget to think before you pink.

Breast Cancer Action has compiled a list of critical questions to ask before buying any of those pink products that are supposed to benefit breast cancer research on the website ThinkBeforeYouPink.org:

1. How much money from your purchase actually goes toward breast cancer?

2. What is the maximum amount that will be donated?

3. How are the funds being raised?

4. To what breast cancer organization does the money go, and what types of programs does it support?

5. What is the company doing to assure that its products are not actually contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

Let's take a look at some of the current "pink ribbon" campaigns and see how they stand up against these questions. (We're just giving quick summaries here and not actually advocating any of these particular campaigns. We trust that you will do your own thorough research and make your own decisions before making any purchases or donations.)

The Hershey's Bliss brand will donate $300,000 to the Young Survival Coalition (but it isn't tied to actual purchases of their Bliss chocolates.) The Hershey's website is profiling the survivor stories of five women and documenting their training for the Hershey's Tour de Pink. 100% of the proceeds from the Tour de Pink and additional donations go directly to the YSC.

Throughout October, some players, coaches, and referees in pink apparel to raise awareness of breast cancer and the importance of annual screenings. All of the apparel (as well as special balls, coins, etc.) will be auctioned off at NFL Auction with 100% of the proceeds benefitting the American Cancer Society. (We do think this campaign is pretty cool, if only because it actually acknowledges the fact that some women actually watch football!)

Herr's is selling ribbon-shaped Whole Grain Pretzels with Flax Seed & Honey in a special pink bag and donate 25-cents per bag sold to the Linda Creed Foundation. According to Daily Finance, they've capped their donation at $15,000. (They're also giving away pretzel samples at the LCF's breast cancer screenings.)

Penn has created a line of pink tennis balls to promote breast cancer awareness and will donate 15 cents per can of their pink felt tennis balls "to benefit breast cancer research". (It doesn't say how their money will benefit breast cancer or which organizations it will be donated to or what kind of research it will support.)

For every pink product purchased, KitchenAid will make a donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, but each product must be registered at CookfortheCure.com in order for the donation to be generated. (The amount donated varies based on the price of the item: e.g., $50 donation for a $349.99 mixer, $25 for a $199.99 food processor, $15 for a $129.99 blender, $5 for a $19.95 pink ribbon apron, etc.) During 2009 they will donate a minimum of $500,000.
Ford has sponsored the Komen Race for the Cure for 15 years and to date has dedicated over $100 million. Also more than 50,000 Ford employees have participated in the race and thousands of their dealers support it in their areas. Ford also sells "Warrior gear" and donates 100% of the net proceeds to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. And every time you test-drive a Ford vehicle (up until December 31, 2009) they also donate $20 to the Komen Affiliate in the city of your choice. The only catch: car exhaust contains toxic chemicals that are linked to breast cancer. Ford is working on creating cleaner cars, like their new hybrids but you still have to ask yourself if this is a case of pinkwashing or not.
Yoplait donates 10 cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure for every pink lid sent in (until December 31, 2009). They have guaranteed a donation of at least $500,000. In the past Breast Cancer Action considered them a "pinkwasher" because their yogurt was made with dairy stimulated with the hormone rBGH (which has been linked to cancer). However, after a successful BCA-campaign "Put a Lid On It"... Yoplait is now rBGH free!

There are a lot of pink products out there right now. It may make you feel like your purchases are helping people when you buy them and in some cases maybe they are... but in many cases your money would be better spent just being donated directly to the organizations themselves. We ask that this October you inform yourself about the companies you're going to support. Maybe you just really really want that pink blender or ribbon-shaped pretzels and that's okay, as long as you're realistic about where your money is actually going and who your purchase is actually helping.

Here is a random sampling of some organizations that you can support directly, although we're not actually going to endorse any of them specifically. We think you should look into what kind of work the organization does first before you donate (and by "look into" we don't mean just reading the very brief summary we've given - which may or may not be totally accurate - we mean actually look at the website). You can decide if you'd rather your money go towards a group that funds medical research, prevention, holistic treatment, patient and survivors support groups, etc. Do you want to support a large, global organization or a smaller, local one? Or maybe you want to volunteer your time instead of your money.

  • American Cancer Society - Nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. [Donate]
  • Annie Appleseed Project - Non-profit corporation, provides information, education, advocacy, and awareness for people with cancer and their family and friends who are interested in complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) and natural therapies from a patient's perspective. [Donate]
  • Breast Cancer Action - National education and activist organization that challenges assumptions and inspires change to end the breast cancer epidemic. Advocates for policy changes in treatment, environment, and inequities. [Donate]
  • Breast Cancer Research Foundation - Mission is to achieve prevention and a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime by providing critical funding for innovative clinical and translational research at leading medical centers worldwide, and increasing public awareness about good breast health. A minimum of 85 cents of every dollar goes to research and awareness programs. [Donate]
  • Breastcancer.org - Nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the most reliable, complete, and up-to-date information about breast cancer. [Donate]
  • Gerson Institute - Non-profit organization dedicated to the alternative, non-toxic treatment of disease, using the Gerson Therapy. [Donate]
  • Gilda's Club - Creates welcoming communities of free support for everyone living with cancer along with their families and friends. Provides networking and support groups, workshops, education and social activities. [Donate]
  • Living Beyond Breast Cancer - National education and support organization with the goal of improve women's quality of life and helping them take an active role in your ongoing recovery or management of the disease. [Donate]
  • National Breast Cancer Coalition - Grassroots advocacy organization working toward increased federal funding for breast cancer research and collaborating with the scientific community to implement new models of research, improving access to high-quality health care and clinical trials, and expanding the influence of breast cancer advocates. [Donate]
  • National Breast Cancer Foundation - Increases awareness of breast cancer through education and by providing mammograms for those in need. [Donate]
  • Network of Strength - Resource of information for patients (they explain in plain language the information patients are likely to get). [Donate]
  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure - The world's largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists and the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world (has invested more than $1 billion since inception in 1982). Dedicated to education and research about causes, treatment, and the search for a cure. [Donate]
  • Young Survival Coalition - Non-profit organization oriented to support and education about breast cancer in younger women. [Donate]

For more organizations you can research and then possibly support: Breast Cancer Organizations


Batocchio said...

But - but - they told me to buy!

Seriously, this is valuable work. Thanks.

Rehctaw said...

It's been said/asked before...
Why should there need to be corporate sponsorships for disease?

Why not bring people's health into the national security arena and let the Pentagon hold bake sales, walk-a-thons and find corporate tie-in sponsorships?

This would better reflect REALITY. Our military is preponderantly focused on protecting our corporate global interests. Our foreign policy has been heavily pro-corp interests for...ever (it seems)

The MIC has "created" wealth for such an inbred assortment of death merchants that it is well past time that they go begging for their breakthroughs and "cures".

takeaction said...


Thank you so much for mentioning Breast Cancer Action and the questions from our Think Before You Pink website. It's important to get the word out about pink ribbon marketing and we thank you for helping us do that. Please stay up to date on all of Breast Cancer Action's campaigns and continue to help us challenge assumptions and inspire change.

Breast Cancer Action

BCAction said...

What the Cluck? Tell KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure to stop pinkwashing!
With their "Buckets for the Cure" campaign, KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure are telling us to buy buckets of unhealthy food to cure a disease that kills women. When a company purports to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribboned product, but manufactures products that are linked to the disease, we call that pinkwashing. Make no mistake--every pink bucket purchase will do more to benefit KFC's bottom line than it will to cure breast cancer. Join us in telling KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure to rethink this pinkwashing partnership.

Breast Cancer Action