Thursday, October 8, 2015

Best and Worst Pink Products (and How to Avoid Being Fooled)

My mom is a smart lady who is full-to-the-brim with great advice.  

When I've questioned my ability to raise tiny humans, she taught me to be a good parent all you need is to love your kids and the rest will work out.  On days when I run in circles and nothing seems to work out, Mom reminds me the secret of life is to get plenty of sleep and wear comfortable shoes.  But there are some occasions which call for my Mom's favorite piece of tough-ish love advice:  "Pull your head out of your ass."

This is the particular piece of advice I find myself muttering to the advertising world throughout the entire month of October as they roll out gems such as pink ribbon dog poo bags or pink ribbon cleaning supplies (complete with actual known carcinogens).  So in the spirit of the season - and while channeling my mom - I'd like to bring you a round up of the best and worst pink products I've happened across in the last few years, as well as a few tips to avoid falling prey to less-than-sincere advertisers.


What it is:  Pink NFL Football Gear

Pink Peeves:  Although the NFL has been quick to jump on the bandwagon with everything from pink football uniforms to pink fan gear - a paltry small amount of the proceeds raised actually benefits any cancer cause.  Which means that although the NFL is making money hand-over-fist by aligning with this previously untapped market, the end result is a philanthropy fumble.

What it is: Pink Hair Brushes

Pink Peeves:  Let me just state the obvious - people diagnosed with cancer usually lose their hair to breast cancer treatments.  For many of us (myself included) our hair never returns to "normal".  Putting a pink ribbon on hair care products does not win any points with the chemo crowd - certainly not this member of the club.  At best, pink ribbon hairbrushes come off as a bit out of touch with what the breast cancer cause is all about - and at worst it is a really dick move.

What it is:  KFC Pink Bucket of Chicken

Pink Peeves:  This was a brainchild pairing between Komen and the good Colonel.  Because - why not combine the number one (heart disease) and number two (cancer) killers of women in the US along with 11 secret herbs and spices.  Finger licking good.

Go Home Komen, You're Drunk.
What it is:  Pink Fracking Bit

Pink Peeves:  In 2014, oil and fracking giant Baker Hughes went down in PR nightmare history when they made a sizable donation to Susan G and produced 1,000 pepto bismol pink fracking bits.  Now regardless of your stance on fracking, it's hard to imagine a more controversial pairing than an organization whose mantra is "For the Cure" and a company whose practices "Might be a Cause" of cancer. And yes - this really happened.


So here's the thing - I am well aware not all pink products are created equal.  And though I personally avoid pink like the office flu-bug, I can certainly appreciate the supportive sentiment - as long as there is a little substance behind all that saccharine.  So for those who may want to support the chemo kids but don't want to be duped in the process - here's what to look for (and a few of my favs).

Anatomy of a Pink Product
Not all pink products are created equal.  Learn to
be a label reader to avoid being duped!

What to look for:  Be sure to read the fine print associated with any pink ribbon packaging.  There should be a clear statement of how much money will be donated as well as which organization will benefit.  Also, watch for funding caps - many organizations make a set donation to a cause which will not change regardless of product sales.

What to avoid:  Steer clear of vague statements such as "a portion of proceeds will be donated to a cancer cause" or "supports breast cancer awareness".  If you spy a ribbon package without a donation disclaimer - shelve it and keep walking.

Pass-ably Pink Products

What it is: Anything for sale on the Metavivor website.

Why I like them: If you don't have Metavivor on your radar yet - be sure to do so, pronto.  This crew is shaking things up in the breast cancer community and the big ole' world by changing the face of metastatic breast cancer. Through the use of in-your-face tactics, these brilliant minds are making big waves - like the Met-Up DC Die-In Event scheduled for October 13th. (Here's a link to a Nancy's Point write up about the much anticipated Capitol Hill happening.)  One of Metavivor's primary objectives is to increase the research funding for metastatic breast cancer. This is essential because while nearly 30% of all patients diagnosed with early stage cancer will eventually become metastatic, only 2% of all research funding is spent on metastatic disease.  Metastatic or StageIV breast cancer is fatal, associated with less than a 5 year life expectancy and has no cure.  Proceeds from Metavivor website sales go towards keeping their operations afloat and nearly 100% of funds raised goes toward directly funding metastatic breast cancer research grants.

What it is: Sevenly T-Shirts

Why I like them:  Sevenly is a company whose business model makes the lofty goal of promoting a "culture of giving".  They partner with nonprofit organizations to produce a clothing line with true-to-mission-statement clothing and sell it on their website.  Sevenly then teaches about and promotes the heck out of the featured cause  - and 7% of all sales go right back to their non-profit partners.  Sevenly's designs echo what the organizations stand for - which is probably what I like most about them - and they are clear about what percentage of proceeds go back to the non-profit.  My fav is the line benefitting First Descents - an organization which provides free outdoor adventure trips (think white water kayaking, surfing and snowboarding) for cancer survivors under the age of 40 as a way of helping them reconnect with the world.  But there are plenty of other great designs and organizations so be sure to linger a bit - you might just learn something.

What it is: Bravery Bags

Why I like them:  One of the good things that came from my own cancer diagnosis is that I have met some amazing, inspiring and just plain fun people who are making a difference in this world.  Ann Marie Otis of Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer fame is one of those peeps.  In between raising money for various cancer causes and working as a fierce advocate for the metastatic breast cancer community, this dynamo  (and her children) collect items for what they dub "Bravery Bags".  These she fills with comforts and delivers to her local cancer center to lift the spirits of those undergoing treatment - no small feat.  Anyway, the project is the epitome of kindness and it makes an immediate impact on those undergoing treatment - plus it keeps her kids busy stuffing bags.  So, the next time you are doing some online shopping, be sure to throw a few items in your cart from their Amazon wish list.  I criss-cross my heart it will go to good use - and you will rack up some good karma points in the process.

What it is:  Ford Warriors in Pink

Why I like them:  Ok, full disclosure, I was pretty skeptical of this organization when I first learned
about it.  At first glimpse, it appears to echo any of the multitudes of companies who have scrambled to brand themselves using the pink ribbon popularity contest.  But, after doing a little more digging, I'm pretty impressed.  100% of the net proceeds from the organization sales are donated to one of four cancer organizations - Young Survival Coalition, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, The Pink Fund and yes, even Komen Foundation.  But the best part about the site is that when you purchase an item from the site they tell you the exact dollar amount that will be donated - and you can choose which of the organizations will receive your money at checkout.  Pretty cool.