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Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Still an Active Cause Marketer

In the immediate aftermath of Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s silly public missteps with Planned Parenthood (and KFC before that), a lot of pundits read the tea leaves and foresaw corporate defections from Komen’s sponsor list and public excoriation.

So much for all that.

On April 5, 2012 Komen and Caribou Coffee announced a deal whereby Komen would be the beneficiary of Amy’s Blend, a coffee blend names for former Caribou roastmaster Amy Erickson, who succumbed to breast cancer after a lengthy battle. Komen is also the partner in Amy’s Gardens, three gardens that celebrate Erickson’s valiant fight.

With 450 stores, Caribou is the second-largest coffee house chain in the United States, after the much, much larger Starbucks.

Caribou inked the deal despite the fact that there are anti-Komen websites, scholars whose careers hinge on being anti-Komen, an anti-Komen documentary movie, and a half-dozen of so direct competitors.

Komen absorbs the blows from all these brickbats and more and keeps on growing. (Although you wouldn’t have guessed from the way Komen was portrayed as the Goliath in the blowup that the breast cancer charity is not even half the size of Planned Parenthood).

Is Komen immune to any and all criticisms? Of course not. It’s just has a bigger store of goodwill than has been required by their several gaffes, perceived and real.

Add to that the fact that what Komen does is needed by the community of breast cancer fighters and survivors and you have a kind of replay in miniature of what happened to the United Way of America 20 years ago.

In February 1992 William Aramony resigned as CEO of United Way of America amid allegations of a lavish lifestyle funded by United Way monies. Aramony was subsequently convicted on 23 counts of fraud and other illegal acts. He spent 6 years in prison.

How is this like Komen in any way, shape or form?

Well, ask yourself these questions: Was United Way shaken by the scandal? You bet. Shaken to its very core. Before his fall, Aramony was a very capable operator. Has United Way suffered long-time ill effects from the Aramony scandal? It looks to me like its growth curve did. Although I’m not enough of a statistician to say if it was the Aramony scandal that did it or the concurrent transformation of the American economy that left the United Way with fewer large company payrolls to fundraise amongst. So was United Way done in by the Aramony Scandal? Not by a long shot.

United Way remains viable because goodwill for local United Ways is still high and because the substitutes for the United Way are only slightly better now than they were 20 years ago.

The opinions of its haters notwithstanding, Komen has only been tagged by these several dustups, not bruised. Komen remains well-positioned for the future.

Certainly that’s what Caribou Coffee is saying.


Jan said…
By what measure do you gauge "growth?" The Komen debacle occurred not even three months ago, and across the board donations are down 30 percent or more.

Also, why would you compare the "size" of Komen - a charity that offers feel-good pink stuff, and Planned Parenthood - a nationwide provider of women's healthcare?

I suggest your piece was not carefully researched or thought-out.
Anonymous said…
Looks like I will be driving out of my way to get my breve from starbucks for now on
Louise1944 said…
Well, shoot, I like Caribou Coffee. I'm going to miss drinking it, but I'm trying very hard not to support any company that supports Komen. There are plenty of alternatives out there that provide a much bigger percentage of their donations to actual breast cancer research. Thanks for the heads up.
Hi Jan, Louise, and Anonymous:

Thanks for your comments.

I'll respond to all of you collectively since you seem to have a complaint with Komen.

If you'd care to respond, I'd love to hear in more specific terms why Komen perturbs you.

Warm regards,
AnnaD said…
Good to see Komen continuing to help women in need through these partnerships. Kudos to Caribou for understanding what good will come from such an important partnership. Komen saved my mother's life and I will forever be indebted to them. My mother is one of the millions they have helped in the last 30 years.

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