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Group: ‘Pink’ promotions unequal in giving
By Rita Rubin, USA TODAY
With more companies than ever marketing products from lipsticks to vacuum cleaners to raise money for breast cancer, an advocacy group is urging consumers to “think before you (buy) pink.”
Barbara Brenner, executive director of San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Action, says consumers should consider how much money companies are actually contributing to the cause and where it is going.
The percentage of sales that go toward breast cancer charities varies widely. Though some companies donate all profits from certain products, Eureka is donating $1 each from the sale of $149 to $229 vacuum cleaners purchased from May 1 to Dec. 31.
“Is the company spending more on its ‘Clean for the Cure’ ads than it’s donating to the cause?” Brenner’s group asks in an ad to run Wednesday in TheNew York Times. The group also has a Web site,
Eureka is one of more than 50 companies that have entered into a partnership with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Last year, $30 million of Komen’s $130 million in revenue came from such partnerships, foundation CEO Susan Braun says.
Proponents of “cause marketing” for breast cancer say they regard it as a win-win situation: Company sales rise, and non-profits reap millions.
“The charity benefits,” Braun says. “The company benefits.”
Avon acknowledges as much in its 2001 annual report. Last year was the first for the company’s “Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer campaign,” featuring six lip colors. A dollar of each $4 lipstick goes to the Avon Foundation, which pays for breast cancer groups and research. In its annual report, Avon notes that higher sales were “driven by a 6% growth in units due to the success of the Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer lipstick campaign.”
“I don’t think that it’s a bad thing for anybody to be raising money for a cause and anybody to be raising awareness of a disease that’s killing so many people every year,” says Kathleen Walas, president of the Avon Foundation.
Brenner says she hopes consumers realize they must do more than shop to halt breast cancer. “These cause-marketing campaigns are giving people the impression they can do something simple that will solve the problem.”
Each of Eureka’s “Clean for the Cure” vacuums comes with educational materials about breast health, says Kathy Luedke, public relations director for the Bloomington, Ill., company.
“We certainly could have just made a donation and not tell anybody about it. We wanted to stand up and help promote the Komen Foundation.”