Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Look at "Komen Commercialization"

*Length Disclaimer: This is one of my sporadic long-winded posts. Be warned!

For those who don't know, it is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I'm a strong supporter of breast cancer research, education and treatment. It's less rare than most other cancers and can be just as deadly. I have donated to the Lineberger Cancer Center at the hospital of my alma mater, UNC-Chapel Hill. I'm also willing to buy products that support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, but I'll have to admit that the "commercialization" of the breast cancer cause it getting a bit out of hand. I think companies are taking cause-related marketing a little far these days.

Yes, it's a great way for the Komen Foundation to raise money, I don't disagree with that. And it's a great way for a business to show their support for a particular cause while being charitable at the same time. However, it seems like every business from A-Z is jumping on the cause-related marketing bandwagon when it comes to breast cancer, and it makes sense, because it's proven to be a great way to boost sales. You usually don't think about that fact when you go to buy a product that supports the Komen Foundation, if in fact it does support the Komen Foundation, or breast cancer initiatives at all. The Komen Foundation web site actually has a list of questions to ask when deciding which companies to buy from in support of the cause; another site,, has more questions to ask. The Komen Foundation also has a list of their corporate partners so you know who is a part of the program and who isn't.

So most companies do this as a gesture of goodwill and act of philanthropy, but they're also doing it to boost sales. Take this snippet from the Power of Pink article published on "These companies often actively court Komen." What this means, to me anyway, is that they are including the cause-related marketing into their business and marketing strategy, AKA their strategy to increase sales and goodwill towards the company, not just the cause. So, they're essentially commercializing the cause. And that's really what cause-related marketing could be boiled down to in one respect. But, I'll be the first to say it's way more complicated than that, and cause-related marketing is not "evil," or even bad, when used properly and for the right underlying reasons.

On one hand, I totally understand and agree with the decision to do cause-related marketing like this, but on the other I'm disgusted that the cause is being used as a way to increase the annual profits of these companies. Everywhere I turn I see a company exploiting the issue of breast cancer to sell product - tennis racquets and yogurt, to candy and sticky notes - but, how much money actually goes to the cause?

I think that if a company wants to do cause-related marketing, they should donate a significant portion of the money to the cause, and be more transparent about the program and how they fit into it. We, as the consumers, shouldn't necessarily go buying everything we see with pink on it just to support the Komen Foundation. Instead, we can donate directly, or simply make our normal purchases in hopes that our favorite brands are partnered with the Foundation.

It's a tricky thing, cause-related marketing. On the surface it's about charity and the cause, but underneath it's all about making sales and fattening the bottom line. Thoughts?

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At Thursday, October 12, 2006 11:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post. Check out my blog on cause marketing at!

At Thursday, October 12, 2006 12:03:00 PM, Blogger Daniel Monday said...

Thanks. I'll definitely take a look at your blog.

At Monday, January 22, 2007 5:45:00 PM, Blogger Jason P said...

You probably saw this but the foundation has a new name- Susan G. Komen for the Cure...oooooh. They are planning to invest $1billion in educational programs though, so that's pretty cool.

At Monday, January 22, 2007 6:31:00 PM, Blogger Daniel Monday said...

Thanks Jason. I actually did not know they had changed the name - that's good to know. The investment in education is definitely worthwhile. That's where it all starts, and the earlier the better.


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