Welcome to Will It Stick? podcast, where hosts Melissa and Alexis cover creative advertising campaigns, PR stunts, and marketing activations that brands of all shapes and sizes pull, and dive into the research and data to understand if it worked.

October is During Breast Cancer Awareness month! What is the primary goal of the month? To RAISE AWARENESS – to educate women on the importance of getting mammograms and early detection, and to raise funds to help support life-saving research and life-changing support. It first started in 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharma division of Imperial Chemical Industries, and it was kicked off by Betty Ford, because she was a breast cancer survivor. She was actually diagnosed when her husband, Gerald Ford, was president of the United States. Prior to the mid-80s, breast cancer was essentially a taboo topic that women were not supposed to publicly discuss. . Her openness about her diagnosis was so positive for the nation because the number of women who started getting breast exams increased a TON.

In 1989, Evelyn Lauder, senior corporate vice president of the Estée Lauder Companies, was diagnosed with breast cancer and she was the first to turn breast cancer awareness into a brand staple, with many other corporations following in her footsteps. She then went out to launch the nonprofit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) and has raised millions of dollars for breast cancer research and drastically increased awareness for the disease. Estee Lauder is still a huge player in raising funds for breast cancer research today and is credited with really starting the movement of brands getting on board to support breast cancer awareness. In fact – the brand has raised $99 million to support research. That is AMAZING.

Actually, it was Estee Lauder who first made the pink ribbon something for brands to use to show their support. However, the brand didn’t create it.  The concept of the pink ribbon was created by a woman named ​​Charlotte Haley, who had battled breast cancer and started the pink ribbon movement in her own dining room. In 1991, she began hand-making the peach breast cancer ribbons and added them to a postcard that read: “The National Cancer Institute’s annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”

She created this movement as strictly grassroots, handing the cards out at the local supermarket and writing prominent women, everyone from former First Ladies to Dear Abby. Her message spread by word of mouth. Haley distributed thousands of these cards.

The peach-colored ribbon of Haley aroused interest from Alexandra Penney, editor in chief of Self magazine, who was working on Self magazine‘s 1992 National Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue. She saw the initiative to adapt to Haley’s idea by working with her. But Haley rejected the offer saying that Self’s initiative was too commercial.

Unable to use Haley’s peach ribbon for legal reasons, Self magazine and Estee Lauder were both interested in promoting breast cancer awareness with a ribbon as a symbol decided to change the color and look slightly, and to go pink.

So in 1992, Estee Lauder came out with the pink ribbon that is now the most iconic symbol of breast cancer awareness and one of the most recognizable symbols or logos today. And during this month, you see that little pink ribbon EVERYWHERE. It’s on ads, in commercials, on product packing, on t-shirts. Brands like Ford, NFL, Avon, Campbells, Ralph Lauren, Panera, General Mills, Mike’s Hard Lemonaid, Sephora, KFC, and thousands of others. 

When brands partner with or to support a nonprofit, it’s called “cause marketing”. It’s a benefit for the nonprofit – they typically get a % of sales donated and if it’s a big enough brand, some awareness. And of course, the campaigns or product promotions are also designed to turn a profit for the company. Give back while profiting. And, that’s not a bad thing – because businesses have to make profits, and nonprofits need funding. Win-Win. Here’s where it gets a little tricky: many brands simply throw a pink ribbon on a product, or create a promotion where they donate pennies to the cause just to amplify their own sales – but they don’t openly communicate the amount they are donating. If a brand can make a HUGE deal out of supporting breast cancer awareness month and can run a fancy ad campaign and drive exposure for their brand but they only donate peanuts that’s so wrong. 

We round up some of the best examples of cause marketing to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month we can find.

Please tell your friends about this podcast and don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review. Oh, and don’t forget: go get your mammogram or check yourself! Early detection can save your life!

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Resources:

Check out some of the great articles we sourced to gather all the facts for this episode.

There are a TON of great resources including info on many of the companies who donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation which you can find at BCRF.org.

Estee Lauder has a ton of information on the impact they have made at EsteeLauder.com.

There was a great article on Pinkwashing from BitchMedia.com by Jill Moffett, titled Unraveling the Ribbon: Breast Cancer Awareness Month isn’t just about pink.

From Vox.com I read Breast cancer awareness products profit off survivors’ suffering

And I also rented the documentary called Pink Ribbons Inc. which was pretty eye-opening.

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