Friday, September 05, 2008

Think Before You Pink

Received via e-mail from a PR firm in New York...

Hi Mommy Off The Record,

Did you know that a woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the time you finish reading this email? A woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 2 minutes – you can help a woman in your life by sending her the facts about breast health and an important reminder to get a check-up.

This October, Folgers will partner with the National Breast Cancer Foundation to support breast cancer research and education for underserved women with its limited edition Pink Can, which will be available in grocery stores and convenience stores nationwide. In addition to the Pink Can, consumers will be able to visit to send a “wake up call” e-card to loved ones to make them aware of breast health and the importance of early detection. Please click on the image below for your wake up call.

For additional information about the Folgers Pink Can, “wake up call” e-card and tips on good breast health, please visit Also, let me know if you have any questions and/or sample requests.

Dear Folgers,

I can't say how annoying I find it to be solicited by companies who are using breast cancer to sell their product line. And before you get all offended and proclaim that all you really care about is getting the word out about early detection and screening, don't bother. Driving people to your website and pimping your product under the "guise" of breast cancer awareness is irritating at best and downright sickening at worst.

And by the way, not all women are buying it. Consider this your wake up call.



As bloggers, you are undoubtedly going to be getting a slew of these types of e-mails for the next few weeks and I would encourage you to do what I'm doing. Ignore.

I think Breast Cancer Action says it best...

Think Before You Pink. This October, do something besides shop for breast cancer. Breast Cancer Action urges you to ask some critical questions before opening your wallet for pink-ribbon campaigns:

* How much money from your purchase actually goes to the cause?
* What is the maximum amount that will be donated?
* How much money was spent marketing the product?
* How are the funds being raised?
* To what breast cancer organization does the money go, and what types of programs does it support?
* What is the company doing to assure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

If shopping could cure breast cancer it would be cured by now. The breast cancer movement needs action from people like you to create real change, the kind that will create a better future for women with, and at risk for, breast cancer.

If you're looking for ideas on what you can do, consider signing up for action alerts from the Breast Cancer Fund. And then take action. And I don't mean buying a pink can of Folgers.

End vent.


Blogger The Laundress said...

Superbly put.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Karen Sugarpants said...

Well said!

5:41 AM  
Blogger Blogversary said...

Great advice.

6:26 AM  
Blogger sam {temptingmama} said...


Hey, does this mean that you're back??

7:12 AM  
Blogger Ruth Dynamite said...

Such good advice! Thanks for the heads-up.

4:32 AM  
Blogger v said...

Can you BE any more cynical?! Regardless of whether or not you believe folgers & other companies to be "pimping" themselves, the breast cancer foundation undoubtedly makes large sums of money off of this. There's a yogurt company where you send in the lids for breast cancer. Are they too "pimping" themselves? Did you stop to think that perhaps people will continue to buy products they normally use, & in the process do a good deed? Unless you can personally come up with millions of dollars out of your pocket, I'd think twice before having another outburst like the one above. I can see where you're coming from & may even agree to a point. However, you are taking this way out of line. I suggest you crack open a can of folgers, brew yourself a cup & CALM DOWN!

9:43 AM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

v - the breast cancer foundation undoubtedly makes large sums of money off of this?

Really? More money than the companies do? I doubt it. I really don't think they are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. Companies are bottom-line driven.

v- Did you stop to think that perhaps people will continue to buy products they normally use, & in the process do a good deed?

The point is that these companies are using this as a marketing tactic to get new consumers. If not, why would they be targeting bloggers and asking us to post about their campaigns?

f- I'd think twice before having another outburst like the one above.

Huh? If there's one thing I'm sure about, it's my right to write whatever I want on my blog. You call it an outburst. I call it speaking up.

4:38 PM  
Blogger v said...

The point was not what the companies are making out of this, the point is what does breast cancer research get out of this. In a perfect world, we wouldn't have to worry about anything. However, I live in the real world & all I'm trying to say is that nothing is perfect. We work with the imperfections to make the best of the situation. I think you're not seeing the bigger picture. While again I say, I get where you're coming from, I'm also trying to see the bigger picture, make the best of things. You seem to only be focusing on the negative aspects. I wonder if you at least try to see the perspective I have taken on the matter? If consumers are going to purchase the products regardless, why does it hurt to have the company give some of the proceeds to charity? I'm not seeing the bad in this scenario. For instance, would you fault boxtops for education just because you have to buy the product? I wouldn't. There is merit in these ideas whether theyre consumer driven or not.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

V, I do see your point that some money (even if it's only a very small percentage of the sales) goes to breast cancer research. Perhaps I am cynical because too often I see the products that are touted as promoting breast cancer awareness being products that actually may cause cancer or are otherwise harmful to our health. Case in point - the cosmetic companies "breast cancer awareness" campaigns. As you may know, most mainstream cosmetics lines contain cancer-causing chemicals. You can go here for some additional examples of this:

Moreover, the point I was making in the post is that bloggers should think twice before selling themselves (so to speak) to these companies by putting out messages for their products just because they are involved in a "pink ribbon" campaign. At the very least, bloggers should evaluate the product first and find out how much money is truly going to BC research and come to an informed decision about whether to support the campaign. In the end, it's really an individual choice as to whether to promote these campaigns. I'm just providing a perspective. Additionally, if one wants to promote breast cancer awareness, I think there are better ways to do that, such as supporting the Breast Cancer Funds advocacy efforts, as I mentioned towards to the end of my post.

7:28 PM  
Blogger v said...

An FYI to you all out there, I've done some research & here is the real story with Folgers. They have already donated 250k to the foundation. The pink cans & the ecards are to promote awareness only. Whether they sell pink cans or not, the breast cancer foundation has already received the money. Hopefully this makes everyone feel better as the company is really making nothing out of this. They simply want to make people more aware, which is a great thing!

6:44 AM  
Blogger Lisa~Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...


6:59 AM  
Anonymous apc said...

The advertisement you received is simply one side of a mutually beneficial arrangement between the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) and Folgers. It's pretty obvious that Folgers stands to gain less from this than the Breast Cancer Foundation, and you've already showed this by your own logic: most people being as intelligent as yourself, I can't imagine that any significant number of people will run out to buy a can of Folgers specifically to contribute towards the National Breast Cancer Foundation or visit the website to get some information. At the most, Folgers stands to gain (literally) a few dollars from the very few people standing in a shopping aisle who might decide to grab the can of Folgers instead of any other coffee for specifically this reason-- maybe they have a relative sick with cancer. Maybe there are also tax benefits to be had from donating as a firm.

However, the much larger portion of people exposed to this advertisement will already be regular Folgers customers (or general coffee customers) that will notice the drastic change in the usual color of the Folgers can, investigate the reason why the can is pink because they think it might be because of the coffee type (e.g. decaf or special flavoring), and wind up reading a whole bunch about breast cancer-- just like the NBCF wanted. Either way, they'd be buying the coffee anyways. Maybe some will say "What's this crap? I didn't buy coffee to find about breast cancer" while others say "Hmmm, maybe I should check out this site and find out more." Either way, this will certainly accomplish a major goal of the NBCF: making people aware that they probably wouldn't have been able to reach without the help of a major brand like Folgers to provide a free mass advertisement for the NBCF across the shelves of millions of stores across the country.

In conclusion, I think this e-mail (which might potentially allow Folgers to benefit a tiny bit in return for helping out a good cause with advertising) shouldn't be begrudged in the least and that you didn't think things through before getting upset and ranting.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Robyn said...

I have to agree!
I stumbled on your blog AGAIN...I had visited often and forgot where it was! I'm going to add you to my blog list so I remember how to find you easier! lol

12:49 PM  
Anonymous !SHB! said...

Mommy off the record,

Before you go bashing companies about how they are going about donating to breast cancer awareness, why dont you step back and realize one thing; ATLEAST THEY ARE DONATING TO IT. How many companies out there turn a blind eye to breast cancer awareness. Walk into any grocery store or convenience store and look at the labels of all of your favorite snacks. How many of them have a pink ribbon on them trying to promote breast cancer awareness?

Also, did anybody ever say shopping could cure breast cancer? I think not. People need to eat, and where do people get food? At the grocery store. What better place to promote breast cancer awareness than somewhere EVERYBODY needs, or most likely needs, to go to?

As a final statement I would like to tell you plainly and simply: WAKE UP!! Be happy that they are actually putting forth an effort to promote awareness unlike most others.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Marinka said...

Fantastic. It's fine if we express our activism through shopping, but lets not stop there.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Marinka said...

Fantastic. It's fine if we express our activism through shopping, but lets not stop there.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Michelle Kemper Brownlow said...

What is sad is that in the past 20 years there has been only ONE cancer drug developed for CHILDHOOD CANCER and NO ONE knows September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

People should support the kids who apparently aren't LOUD enough to warrant funding.


9:29 PM  

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