Pinky Pie

Enveloped for the Cure, I mean Cause & Me

Posted on: January 12, 2011

Am I cured or caused yet?

Here’s hoping the Susan G. Komen folks don’t know what was in my head. I saw this box of envelopes the other day and was quite amused.

The pink box clearly shows Envelopes for the Cause, but in my amused head I was thinking Envelopes for the Cure, which I thought would make one heck of an amusing blog post.

I thought, all I had to do for a cure was to buy a box of envelopes with a pink ribbon security tint? Why didn’t I think of that a couple hundred thousands of dollars ago during surgery, chemotherapy and radiation? (I don’t know the actual number of dollars spent to keep me writing smart aleck blog posts.)

But it’s even better because there is a controversy surrounding the term, “For the Cure,” which the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure says is trademarked. Komen folks do not what infringement from those who Kiss for the Cure, Juggle for the Cure, Kayak for the Cure, Kites for the Cure, Spell for the Cure (not sure there is one of those) or Crack their Knuckles for a Cure (I know my son would participate in that one).

Susan G. Komen is the largest breast cancer research fundraising organization in the country and perhaps the world. It is sending out letters to other charities telling them that their use of “for the cure” infringes on their trademark. One even got a letter questioning the use of the color, pink, by another nonprofit.

In a Wall Street Journal article, Mary Ann Tighe, who created Kites for acure said, “It is startling to us that Komen thinks they own pink. We cannot allow ourselves to be bullied to no purpose.”

Komen’s general counsel, Jonathan Blum, said in an email: “We see it as responsible stewardship of our donor’s funds.”

Sigh. People, people, can’t we all get along?

The Komen Foundation is not alone. The Lance Armstrong Foundation has trademarked “strong” in another charity’s name.  The Wounded Warrior Project of Jacksonville, Fla., protested against Wounded Warriers, Inc., of Omaha, Nebraska.

All this pink is pretty crazy and the maddest of all is Virginia Slims, which came out with a pink purse pack of cigarettes. It announced the then new packaging in October 2008 during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The American Lung Association was furious, issuing a news release that included:

Philip Morris shows contempt for women and their health by putting a pink gloss on a product that causes lung cancer and heart disease, two of the leading killers of women. It is the height of cynicism that Philip Morris timed its announcement of the new pink Virginia Slims for October – National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – when pink is usually associated with protecting women’s health, not harming it. It doesn’t seem to bother the nation’s largest tobacco company that lung cancer from smoking is, by far, the number one cancer killer of women.

… The tobacco industry has a long and harmful history of targeting women and girls. This strategy intensified in the 1968 when Philip Morris introduced Virginia Slims with its seductive “You’ve Come a Long Way Baby” slogan.  Six years after the introduction of Virginia Slims, the rate of smoking initiation for 12-year-old girls had increased 110 percent. In a more recent example, R.J. Reynolds last year introduced Camel No. 9 cigarettes, which come in a shiny black box with flowery hot pink or teal borders, have a name reminiscent of a famous perfume, carry the slogan “light and luscious,” and have been heavily marketed in magazines popular with women and girls, such as Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Vogue.

The Think Before You Pink website (yes there is one) noted two products that were outrageous during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2010:

It also has suggestions before buying pink that include finding out how much money is donated and to which organizations and programs. Is it 50 cents or a $1 out of a $20 product or out of a $100 product? What is enough to make it worthwhile to you to buy the product for that reason?

Think Before You Pink also suggests asking what that company does to make sure its products don’t add to the environmental causes of breast cancer.

It points specifically to Eli Lily and the growth hormone rBGH which is given to cows and is linked with a higher risk of breast cancer. Lily also makes drugs to traet breast cancer, which the think website said is “milking breast cancer.”

That makes Eli Lily a “Pinkwasher,” according to the Think Before You Pink website. A pinkwasher is a company that purports to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribboned product, but manufactures products that are linked to the disease.

Read more at:

I never bought Envelopes for the Cause for any purpose other than a blog post and maybe mailing a bill or two. The box says “a portion of the profits will be donated to support breast cancer research and education.” The product also carries the Sustainable Forestry Initiative logo and claims to be Certified Fiber Sourcing – perhaps there should be a green box of envelopes, too.

But really, knowing how much email there is today instead of printed mail, I’m wondering how much really could be raised by envelopes for the cause/cure.


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