A cheque would be better

Reporter: Hillary Di Menna

As soon as the calendar page flipped to October, shelves were stocked with pink products ranging from stationary at Staples to cosmetics at Costco.
In Canada, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and pink ribbons sprout everywhere. According to the Canadian Cancer Society is the most diagnosed cancer in Canadian women. An estimated 5,300 women will die from the disease by the end of this year.
Consumers can feel philanthropic while purchasing everyday needs and luxuries, knowing sale proceeds are being donated to breast cancer. However a recent Toronto International Film Festival entry, Pink Ribbons Inc. directed by Lea Pool and based on Samantha King’s book of the same name, brought to light the issue of companies capitalizing on the disease.
When a for-profit business uses a non-profit’s cause to market their product, it is cause marketing. This partnership makes the company look philanthropic while helping the company itself increase its market. For example, if a product makes a show of donating to Breast Cancer, it may attract more female consumers.
Costco’s Sept. 26 to Oct. 16, 2011 flyer arrived in members mailboxes with a pink cover. It reads that for each purchase of Proctor and Gamble brands, Crest, OLAY, Gillette and Secret, a certain percentage of proceeds will be donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
The first ingredient for Secret Expressions deodorant can be found by peeling the sticker on the back of the product. It’s Cyclopentasiloxane. The David Suzuki Foundation lists this ingredient in their Dirty Dozen Ingredients to Avoid in your Cosmetics. They explain the ingredient may be harmful to the liver and disrupt our hormones as well as being harmful to wildlife.
Last year KFC had a campaign, Buckets for the Cure. Fifty cents from every purchase of a pink bucket of Grilled or Original Recipe was donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization, named after the famous cancer advocate and victim of breast cancer. KFC is known for sodium and calorie-charged food. They are the restaurant that served the Double Down sandwich, made of two chicken breasts, two pieces of cheese and two pieces of bacon.
These are examples of products from companies that vow to help in finding a cure for an illness while aiding illness itself.
Whitby’s Fran Buncobme worked with the Canadian Cancer Society for years before she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She doesn’t see the pink packaged products for much more than raising awareness. The Canadian Cancer Society reports that mammography screening has risen since the 1990s, and deaths from breast cancer have lowered. There is more awareness now to look for cancerous symptoms.
Health awareness is always a good thing, however there are those who question whether it may be better to write a direct cheque to a cancer foundation rather than apply toxins to their bodies or consume a bucket of sodium.