Cause Marketing encompasses a wide variety of commercial activity that aligns a company or brand with a cause to generate business and societal benefits.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Just the name evokes images of pink ribbons, and to marketers it essentially equals Cause Marketing (CM). In 1982, Nancy Brinker founded of Susan G. Komen Foundation in honor of her late sister, who lost her battle with Breast Cancer. I couldn’t even begin to retell the deeply moving story that motivated Nancy Brinker to dedicate her life to not only better treatment of breast cancer and finding a cure, but also raising the awareness by their use of the beautiful pink ribbons. As unlikely as it seems, just 30 years ago women didn’t talk about breast health or mammograms, and yearly checkups weren’t nearly common enough. Making a change in our society was no easy task, but Nancy Brinker had an incredible motivation and remarkable business sense. How did she do it? Well, frankly, I think it was magic, but truly it was her tenacity and her amazing dedication. She is an inspiration to anyone trying to start their own non-profit.


Just one year after its inception, in 1983 Nancy Brinker organized and ran the first Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. What started as a race of just under 1,000 people in Dallas, Texas, now has an over 1.5 million person participation with over 100 races all over the world. And the Race for the Cure is not the only event benefiting Susan G. Komen, so check out some of their other offerings. One of the reasons that Susan G. Komen has seen such wonderful growth is because they have focused much of their efforts on increasing awareness and have truly championed the use of CM. I bet that if you stop and think about it, there are at least three Susan G. Komen CM products you saw this week alone.


Plus, I bet you can name at least three more non-Susan G. Komen products that still benefit breast cancer. Because of the ubiquitous nature of the pink ribbon to help breast cancer awareness, in 2008 Susan G. Komen rebranded as Susan G. Komen for the Cure and trademarked their new logo. Their new logo was a super creative take on the traditional pink ribbon now made to look like a runner in honor of their trademark race.


So, how might you, as Susan G. Komen did, get so many CM partnerships with companies like Bank of America, M&Ms (Mars Chocolate), Yoplait, Sun Chips, Bic, and OPI? One word: branding. Susan G. Komen recognized that in order to command strong partners in their fight against breast cancer, they would have to create a foundation that not only invested in finding a cure, but also invested in themselves through the use of branding and marketing. They envisioned a future where they were the premier breast cancer research foundation, and they have used strong business practices to proceed down this path.  In fact, according to a “2010 rankings of non-profit organizations from global market research firm Harris Interactive… Komen for the Cure [was ranked] as the number one most valuable non-profit brand and the charity people are most likely to donate to.” Brilliant!


Want another reason to be in awe of Susan G. Komen? They also provide their information in Spanish! With Hispanic women having higher breast cancer mortality rates versus non-Hispanic women, its super important for Susan G. Komen to appeal to the Hispanic demographic in order to meet their mission goals. Plus, a recent study by Cone Communications notes that “94% of Hispanics are likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause vs. 89% of the general U.S. population.” With numbers like that and Susan G. Komen’s efforts within the Hispanic community, I can’t fathom a company that wouldn’t love a partnership with Susan G. Komen!


Question time! What do you think about Susan G. Komen for the Cure? Do you agree that they have some truly great CM partnerships? What about CM fit? What other product or company would you have Susan G. Komen partner with? Which is your favorite pink themed item you most look forward to in October? My personal favorite is the Yoplait campaign! Pink lids just make me smile not only when I purchase it, but again when I eat the yogurt and then again when I mail the lids. Amazing! What about their outreach in the Hispanic community? Do you wish more companies invested in efforts with the Hispanic community?

Cause Calendar
What's My Ribbon?
CM at Non-Profits - In this section, we discuss CM execution for non-profits in their brand building efforts and CM partnerships.
CM at Business - In this section, we focus on CM campaigns taken on by businesses, both large and small, and we discuss the campaigns' details and effectiveness.