Pink can put positive spin on companies' cause marketing

October is traditionally known for leaves turning red and orange, while products on store shelves turn pink. As breast cancer awareness grows, so does the number of pink-ribboned products vying to catch consumers' attention.

October is traditionally known for leaves turning red and orange, while products on store shelves turn pink. As breast cancer awareness grows, so does the number of pink-ribboned products vying to catch consumers' attention.

This year, nearly 200,000 women and men will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 will die from the disease, notes Rebecca Gibson, communications manager for global breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Over the past 25 years, Komen has worked with a variety of corporations that initiate cause marketing programs to help spread the word about the disease through messages on their packaging and campaigns they launch on behalf of the organization. "That's really contributed to reaching millions of people around the world with breast cancer," Gibson notes.

Why does it matter?

"It's something PR people can keep in mind as a cause-related initiative for their clients," Gibson says.

Adds Wendy Naugle, deputy health editor at Glamour, "I think now, the best marketers are really trying to find a way to distinguish their brands in what can sometimes be a sea of pink."

These types of programs reflect well on the brand. "Consumers may not put down their money for the pink-ribbon product, but they do think of that brand in a more positive way - in a way that is helping women, in a way that is giving back," Naugle says. "And that really adds a little cachet to some brands."

Supporting a cause like breast cancer awareness speaks to women in a powerful way because women make so many purchasing decisions. "So it really is a way to relate to them on a personal level and not just on a product level," Naugle notes.

Five facts:

1 The Breast Cancer Research Foundation has raised $160 million since 1993 and has supported more than 115 scientists across the world.

2 On October 1, Metro newspapers around the world were printed with a pink hue to support breast cancer awareness, with editor-in-chief Jon Auerbach stating in a front-page column, "We are pink, and we are proud!"

3 Shape hosted a program called "Pilates for Pink in the Park" in New York City on October 7, where all event proceeds benefited the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

4 Susan G. Komen for the Cure works with more than 100,000 breast cancer survivors and activists worldwide. "We're the largest network working against breast cancer," Gibson says.

5 Yoplait, a longtime corporate sponsor of Komen, has a program called "Save Lids to Save Lives," which donates 10 cents for each lid redeemed. Its donation from the program is well in excess of $1 million each year.

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