* October was first designated National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1985
The efforts of retailers and manufacturers in connection with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October illustrate ongoing commitments to eradicate the all-too-common disease.
There's a lot going on at Kroger in support of breast cancer awareness. Rolling out in stores Sept. 25, "Giving Hope A Hand," an annual program first launched by the Cincinnati-based grocer in 2006, will raise $3 million to assist breast cancer programs in communities where the company operates. This year, Kroger will have donated a total of $18 million to support breast cancer research, education and services.
Fifty-three Kroger associates from across the organization who are breast cancer survivors will appear on customized packages of both national and corporate-brand items that will be sold exclusively in the grocer's stores during the promotion. The survivors and their stories will also be featured on the interactive website www.sharingcourage.com.
Participating brands spanning the store will be spotlighted in Kroger ads, in-store signage, and at shelf through specially marked double tags. Major vendor partners in the Kroger promotion include Pepsi, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft, Kimberly Clark and SC Johnson. This year, Pepsi's participating brands were able to leverage their sponsorship contracts with NFL quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Eli Manning to involve them in Krogers efforts. Another major sponsor, General Mills, funds the lighting of the Kroger Building in Cincinnati in pink, and will wrap it once again with a message to help raise additional funds through the grocer's website.
Separately, hundreds of associates in the company's various divisions are active participants in local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (ACS) events in local markets.
Kroger is just one of many supermarket operators across the country undertaking similar programs. This fall, Bi-Lo Charities, the philanthropic arm of Mauldin, S.C.-based Bi-Lo, will sponsor several Race for the Cure events throughout grocery chain's operating area. Additionally, Bi-Lo will offer pink reusable shopping bags for sale, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the Komen organization. "We have a long history of supporting Komen Race for the Cure," notes a spokeswoman for the Southeast regional grocer.
And on the West Coast, San Bernardino, Calif.-based Stater Bros. Charities and Inland Women Fighting Cancer are urging community members to submit a decorated bra or tie in a contest that aims to raise awareness of breast and other cancers, as well as to promote the Oct. 2 Believe Walk in Redlands, Calif. Among the prizes on offer is a weekend trip to South Coast Winery in Temecula, Calif.
Pink at the Center
Although the battle against breast cancer goes on year-round, its profile gets a significant boost in October, which was first designated National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1985 and has been observed annually ever since. That's why autumn has become the optimal time for grocers and manufacturers to get the word out about early detection and treatment, as well as to raise funds for research and resources.
A particularly well-known annual campaign is General Mills' "Pink Together," which this year is marking its fifth anniversary. In 2011, for the first time ever, breast cancer survivors and supporters will be able to direct half of the yearly $2 million donation Pink Together makes to Susan G. Komen for the Cure to further breast cancer research and support education and community outreach projects.
Along with its customary $2 million donation, Minneapolis-based General Mills will donate an additional $1 for every story shared or comment posted on PinkTogether. com, up to $25,000, as a way to encourage active involvement in the Facebook community.
The campaign will also feature distinctive pink packaging on a broad range of popular General Mills products and five "Survivor Ambassadors" who will share their personal stories of courage and survival.
Over in the beverage section, Coca-Cola's Odwalla functional drinks brand is bringing back its Pink Poetry Superfood variety this month, with the goal of supporting the work of the New York-based nonprofit Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), to which, for the third consecutive year, the product line is contributing $25,000.
"Pink Poetry is made with plum, dark sweet cherry, guava and other juices, along with hibiscus, cranberry and green tea extracts," notes Irma Shrivastava, VP marketing at Half Moon Bay, Calif.-based Odwalla Inc. "It also contains antioxidant vitamins C and E, as well as iron and calcium -- two things often lacking in women's diets."
Meanwhile, bottled water brand Athena, which was founded by breast cancer survivor Trish May, is giving consumers the opportunity to help stamp out the disease all year long by purchasing 24-pack cases of 16.9-ounce bottles.
"We know that Americans want to purchase products that support a cause," says Dillon Schickli, CEO of Atlanta-based DS Waters of America, which purchased the Athena brand last year. "Athena gives everyone the chance to make a difference, with every bottle of water." DS Waters is carrying on May's mission through a donation of a minimum of $1 million related to the water's sales by 2014 to support breast cancer awareness, education and research.
Raising awareness through its products is also on the agenda of Nestl' Pure Life bottled water from Stamford, Conn.based Nestl' Waters North America, which has teamed with the BCRF for the second year in a row on the "Pink Pack" retail program. Ten cents from every special package of Nestl' Pure Life, arriving in stores at the end of this month, will go to the organization, which will receive a minimum of $350,000. Strong support last year enabled the brand to donate $500,000 -- twice the previous year's donation.
Pink in the Perimeter
The produce department also has its share of champions for the cause. In late September, Bland Farms, a Glennville, Ga.-based year-round grower of sweet onions, will roll out packaging with an all-pink version of its logo. Additionally, packaging and point-of-sale material will feature a "shopping list" of foods that studies indicate could help prevent cancer, a recipe for good breast health, and the latest info from the American Cancer Society. What's more, Bland Farms will donate $20,000 to BCRF.
"We welcome the opportunity to support organizations that have an impact on the consumer demographic that has made us as successful as we are," notes Richard Pazderski, Bland Farms' sales and marketing director, of the grower's second annual breast cancer awareness promotion.
Similarly, Clifford Produce, a Ruthven, Ontario-based greenhouse grower, will run its second annual retailer-focused matching campaign in support of breast cancer awareness. This year, for every specially marked case of Clifford Produce sold, the company will match retailer donations of up to 50 cents per case, up to $50,000, to the Frisco, Texas-based National Breast Cancer Foundation.
During October, Clifford's packaging will feature the familiar pink ribbon, as well as the campaign slogan "Clifford Produce. Every package makes a difference." The slogan also appears in outreach materials for retailers.
"Approximately one in eight women will be diagnosed with cancer during her lifetime," says Chris Jacobs, Clifford Produce president. "It's time to change that. We hope that retailers with join us in the fight against breast cancer through this campaign."