When Buying Pink Stinks

pinkribbonIf you have been seeing pink ribbons everywhere in the past two weeks it because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is designed to raise the public consciousness about breast cancer, the importance of early detection, and to encourage women to do self examinations and get mammograms. No doubt, this is an important and worthy undertaking.

Companies have joined in to help raise money for various breast cancer organizations typically by promising to donate X cents or X dollars for every product sold bearing a pink ribbon. A maximum donation is often stated in the advertising. So many companies have joined in doing these promotions dubbed “cause marketing”, that store shelves and ads are filled with pink ribbon items.

Some women with breast cancer are now speaking out about the commercialization of their disease. They don’t like the fact that some companies appear to be profiting from their pain.

“Many breast cancer survivors like Zielinski find themselves conflicted over this little powerful ribbon. Some survivors feel companies are exploiting breast cancer, marketing themselves as philanthropic outfits that care about women when what they mostly care about is the pink ribbon’s enormous ability to boost profits. Some just feel overwhelmed by the constant pink reminder, especially in October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, of a disease that has forever altered their lives.” — Sick of Pink, Boston Globe Magazine, October 4, 2009

Poking around the Internet, Mouse Print* discovered that Buy.com was promoting its own very pink “Breast Cancer Awareness Store.”


Among the items being sold there are pink luggage and even pink flash drives from PNY.  In many cases, there is no specific disclosure of how much money of your purchase will be donated to breast cancer causes.

*MOUSE PRINT: Some items just say, “Portions of the proceeds of the sale of this flash drive go the Susan G. Koman for the cure foundation.”

The site also did not appear to say whether it was actually Buy.com or the products’ manufacturers who were making the contributions.

*MOUSE PRINT: A public relations representative for Buy.com when asked by Mouse Print* replied:

“As part of Buy.com’s National Breast Cancer Month Promotion, the participating manufacturers are making the donation when each item is sold.”

While manufacturers need retailers to promote pink products in order to donate the sums they have promised, some consumers might erroneously have believed that this retailer was also making a contribution derived from the profit on the sale of these pink items.

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10 thoughts on “When Buying Pink Stinks”

  1. I’ve never believed in this pink ribbon stuff or any other marketing scheme where they promise to donate a “portion” of their profits. If I decide to help out for X cause then I will donate the money myself directly to the foundation.

  2. If they are not willing to say how much is being donated, then assume they are donating very little. A dontation of one cent per item would meet the requirement that they are donating a portion of their profits.

  3. Canadian researchers said on Wednesday they had documented the genetic transformation of a breast tumor mutation by mutation, shedding light on how cancer develops and offering potential new routes to fighting it.

  4. I am a ten year survivor of breast cancer and had excellent treatment at the Virginia Piper cancer facility in MInneapolis which was built partly with funds from the Susan Komen foundation. Every little bit helps so it doesn’t bother me to see pink ribbons on items I am going to buy anyhow. For a list of all the corporate sponsors of Susan Komen go to http://ww5.komen.org/corporatepartners.aspx

    For those of you who sponsor: Thank you so much, it is saving lives every day.

  5. I think these “we’ll donate so much for each product purchased up to XX$$” programs are just wrong. If they want to donate the money, donate the money. Don’t extort it from us.

  6. My concern is how easily the public heart strings are being pulled and people are not actually investigating how much is being donated and how are these donated funds being used. I know that some of the funds that go to the Susan G Komen fund are being donated to Planned Parenthood organizations in various cities in the US. It is ironic that an organization that says that it is looking for a cure for breast cancer is donating to an organization that is doing a procedure that has been linked in some studies to causing breast cancer.

  7. They are no closer to a cure for breast cancer than they were in the 1930’s. Most breast cancers would be fine if left alone. It is treatment induced death. Check the Readers Digest Study on women from Sweden, saying 40% of women who died of other unrelated,causes happened to have so-called breast cancer at the time.America’s greed will not allow a cure.(ie. dr’s and pharmaceuticals). Read Cancer From the Inside Out

  8. I agree~If I want to donate, I’d donate directly. Don’t know if this is in all states but we have Ace Hardware trying to sell pink outdoor lightbulbs. (?) Why not SAVE the money you’d use for the extra electric bill and lightbulb and donate it? Besides, PINK in the month of Halloween? I don’t THINK so. 🙂

  9. And another one that gets me to say “What the HECK??” is the rubber band ring Hoda is trying to sell on the Today show. $5.00 and only TWO goes to the Breast Cancer Fund. (????) $3.00 for shipping/handling for a RUBBER BAND??…maybe they should have left the part of how much was being donated out of the sale push.

  10. Read “No Family History” – its good that were donating money to find the cure – but there’s a hidden agenda for those involved with money – plus why not find prevention method – the cure runs and walks just makes it easier for us to get instant gratification. I want to find prevention so that women don’t have to go through this horrible procedure.

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