October is national breast cancer awareness month in the U.S. The wave of pink things once again spurs the question, is this actually helpful?
It is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the NFL is doing its part to support the cause as the league has become saturated in pink (click here for numerous examples). However, off the field, it is a different story.
Many of the items seen on the field can also be purchased in the NFL’s online shop. But while the items on the field will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society, it is less clear how much of the sales of pink gear in the NFL Shop go towards research.
When we contacted the NFL’s online shop for clarification, we were told 5% of the sales are being donated to the American Cancer Society. If the pink products have a typical 100% mark-up at retail, that means the NFL is keeping 90% of the profit from the sale of Breast Cancer Awareness gear.
And then consider that only 70.8% of money the ACS receives goes towards research and cancer programs. So, for every $100 in sales of pink gear, only $3.54 is going towards research while the NFL is keeping approximately $45 (based on 100% mark-up)
Then the NFL wanted to clairfy:
While they did not dispute the numbers above, a representative said the NFL does not profit from the sale of pink merchandise. Any money that is not donated to ACS is used to cover the costs of their breast cancer awareness program, A Crucial Catch. Also, the NFL says they have donated “more than $3 million” or approximately $1 million per year as a result of the program that began in 2009.
My skepticism is with the “breast cancer awareness” part. Frankly, I’m sick of pink and I’m not clear how pink helps AT ALL towards the cure. How much more “aware” or educated does it make me to see people in pink with pink ribbons and pink products? None. None more educated.
Surely the NFL is helping keep people aware and alert and vigilant that at any moment, breast cancer could be lurking around a corner in a dark alley waiting with a hot pink switchblade to steal your purse and boobs. The thing about awareness is that it’s all but impossible to quantify — and everyone knows about breast cancer. […] The “awareness” that comes from the NFL’s sales of pink branded items doesn’t justify the extent to which the league is taking advantage of consumers’ good intentions to pad their wallets. Even if no NFL player ever touched another pink thing again, Americans would go right on being aware of the disease. Unless the Buffalo Jills or New Orleans Saintsations cheerleaders are holding up signs that show women how to give themselves breast self-exams or tickets come with 5 page printouts of places low income women can obtain breast health screening for low or no cost, the type of awareness the NFL is providing is useless, vague garbage.
But the author does not have facts that show that there isn’t actually an increase in research dollars as a result. I would guess there certainly is but what’s the flip side? PR and profit for businesses? Is it lopsided?
If research dollars are needed, are they getting that from all this promotion? One can’t help but wonder if producing these speciality products for the cause are exploitive of the public emotion over this disease. In a piece from last year, where I showed my distaste for the avalanche of pink products I was being encouraged to purchase, it was surprising to note that apparently no one was keeping tabs on the money that was actually being generated from research. Are they now?
Here is a piece from another angle: ‘Pinktober’ ignores breast cancer patients who can’t be cured, some say
“Some women hate October,” says Wells, 45, a mother of three from Costa Mesa who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2007 and learned two years later that it had metastasized, spreading to her lungs.
They call it “Pinktober” and that’s not a term of endearment.
Instead, it refers to the barrage of pink-themed promotions, events and activities during October — everything from pink stickers on football players’ helmets to pink lights illuminating the White House — that seem to highlight the bright side of battling breast cancer, all without acknowledging the women living in its darkest shadow.
“The message has really been skewed,” says Knackmuhs, 61, of Wyckoff, N.J., who was diagnosed with Stage IV disease in 2009. “It’s so associated with selling products and shopping and dubious product endorsement.”
Is there something more to this story? Let us know what you know.