Most people associate October with fall foliage, that beautiful time of year when nature displays such a wonderful palette of brilliant red, yellow and orange all around us.
There is, of course, another color associated with October - pink. We see pink ribbons everywhere - on t-shirts, public service announcements, fundraising events and products in the store - to bring attention to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The first known use of a pink ribbon in connection with breast cancer awareness was in the fall of 1991, when the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors. It was adopted as the official symbol of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month the following year.
In the 20 years since then the pink ribbon campaign has been hugely successful in drawing much needed recognition and donations to fight this devastating disease. More women are undergoing prescreening for breast cancer, and statistics prove that early detection helps save lives. And the millions of dollars raised for research has led to more successful and less invasive treatment options.
Dr. Joseph Rosen, medical director of the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital Breast Care Program, goes into further detail about the advances in breast cancer treatment in his Health Matters column on page 10 of today’s Reformer.
The countless individuals, organizations
The nation’s two largest breast cancer charities have adopted guidelines for fuller disclosure by those selling pink products and services in their names, New York’s attorney general said Thursday. The so-called best practices, adopted by Susan G. Komen For The Cure and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, include having companies disclose the specific amount that will be donated from each purchase. Companies using pink ribbons and similar symbols on products also are expected to state if a purchase triggers a donation or merely calls attention to the cause.
"These best practices ... will help ensure that cause marketing campaigns provide the benefit that’s expected, and that we protect consumers, charities and above all, the women and families affected by this devastating disease," Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told the Associated Press.
Other provisions call for the companies to disclose the nature of any in-kind contributions, whether there is a cap on their donation amount and to post on their websites the amount a campaign generated.
Schneiderman’s Charities Bureau has been reviewing related cause marketing campaigns of nearly 150 companies since last year, finding substantial donations but some confusing information about amounts, the AP reports. For example, one clothing company’s "pink" ad campaigns in 2009 and 2010 said it was making "a cash and in-kind contribution of $250,000" to the Komen program. It turned out the cash donation was $100,000 each year, with $150,000 of in-kind expenses for paying celebrities to appear in the ads.
Full disclosure of these pink ribbon campaigns is long overdue. It will end the confusion generated by the oversaturation of cause marketing and help consumers select which campaigns will benefit breast cancer awareness and research the most. And the more money that goes to research, the faster we will find a cure once and for all.