The bully of the ribbon and the value of pink

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November is here, let the pink tide finally recede. This year the tide was especially aggressive.

Like Kramer in the clip below, I saw and heard some ribbon bullies this month, no big surprise, although in October when the ribbon bullies get going, it's to encourage men to don pink in public, generally under the banner of 'Are you man enough to wear pink?' The subtext is that pink is only acceptable for men in October, and only when others challenge you to wear it. That they expect compliance is self-defeating; succumbing to peer pressure is hardly an edifying quality, and no mark of maturity will ever be found where there is also such a massive cultural disclaimer as the meaning of pink in October.

Anyway, how much money would you guess was raised for the fight against breast cancer this past month? Between all the competing charity fundraisers, who knows, but here's something that will give you some scale to gauge the potential amount.

SUSAN G AND THE BENJAMIN'S

Technically, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is not a cause or a campaign, it's an organization founded and sponsored chiefly by big Pharma (AstraZeneca). It has a 20-30 member Board of Sponsors, one of which is the extraordinarily high-profile Susan G. Komen For the Cure. This non-profit raises cash at a staggering clip: Between the Passionately Pink days, the promotional arrangements and the endless stream of 5k runs, they raise about $1 million* a day.

Every day of the year.

That's $357,000,000 in gross revenue annually the past two years ($368 milliion in 2008, $346 million in 2009). Compared to perennial charitable behemoths like the United Way, the Mayo Clinic Foundation, and the American Red Cross (which see around $3 to 6 billion in total revenue annually), it's not even close. But Susan G. Komen is just one (very large) organization chasing breast cancer's tail.

Add them all up, it's in the billions. Throwing money at a disease has never proven effective, so I can only hope they're doing more than that.


By Ross Bonander

* I arrived at this figure rather crudely but not without accuracy. I took the total amount of gross revenue Susan G. Komen for the Cure reported in 2008 and 2009, divided it in half, then divided that figure by 365, then rounded up by about $20,000.

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