Friday, January 20, 2012


I would like to direct your attention to a website called Direct Marketing  They are the research division of Target Marketing Group.  Recently, they did an analysis of the manner in which non-profits compete for donor dollars.  They note that "rarely have (the non profits) been so open about this competition than seen here with these four major breast cancer fund raising organizations."  Their comparison of the "very cutting edge batch of fundraising mail" of four of those organizations is highlighted in this video:

In case that link, cut and paste info is here......

The complete content of each envelope can be downloaded from their website.  The speakers provide excellent insight as to how and why the marketing is effective and of course, which one is most effective.  The explanation provided by Peggy Hatch and Ethan Boldt is proof beyond any doubt as to why it is absolutely essential to read past the hype before opening your wallet and donating one penny to anyone.

I HIGHLY recommend clicking the link and watching the video in which Ms. Hatch and Mr. Boldt analyze each piece of mail. The captions under each envelope are bulleted points of the speakers.  Fear, salvation, greed are just a few of the methods employed by some of these organizations and in the process, those of us who have a breast cancer diagnosis are being turned into a for profit brand rather than being treated like a woman with a disease.

I don't take offense with one organization taking jabs at another.  I don't take offense at the hospital (disclaimer to readers, I am both a patient and a volunteer at Sloan Kettering) for trying to garner as many donations as possible when there is an anonymous donor in the background offering to match funds.  Personally, I do agree with the way they utilize their donor dollars but that isn't the point.  Each of us is free to decide what "cause" speaks to us.

Bank of America pushing pink.  A problem.  A dire and ominous black envelope deliberately instilling fear and terror with a soundbite and adding insult to injury by slanting a statistic and then driving the point home with scratch off circles.  Not only am I being fed a skewed statistic, I'm being terrorized by the circles.  Each one indicating another family member. Daughter.  Granddaughter.  Sister.  Mother.

The back of that envelope is awful.  Scratch offs?  Now I'm a "brand" AND a scratch off lottery ticket, too.  Aside from finding this highly distasteful and personally insulting, it's misleading and that is disgraceful.

Let me PLEASE break down One in EIGHT, Once and FOR ALL.

I know what it is like to fall on the short side of a statistic.  I am not a fan of statistics and soundbites are quickly turning into pond scum bottom feeders from my perspective.  I know too many who fell on the short side; women diagnosed with breast cancer in their 20's and 30's which is a statistical anomaly.  I pulled the short straw every time a doctor quoted a statistical probability.  At least, however, I was not being mislead when I was provided with statistics.

The statistics I have displayed below are for women with no known risk factors.  I did have a risk factor as my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 40's.  SHE was one in 68.  As a result, this chart doesn't apply to me.  However, I was STILL not "One in Eight" when I was diagnosed.  You see why I do not like statistics?  You really need to understand what you are looking at and whose agenda is being pushed.

Here goes..... Give the chemobrain a good workout and explain as simply as I possibly can what it means when someone parrots that soundbite: One In Eight.  The majority of us are NOT represented by one of those eight scratch off circles on the back of that dire black envelope.

For the sake of this discussion, let's pretend I am a 71 year old woman.  I am one in eight.  Yes, accurate.  Statistically and completely accurate statement.

As for my family members......

My sister is in her 60's
My older daughter is in her 50's
My younger daughter is in her 40's
My niece is in her 30's
My granddaughter is in her 20's

Not ONE of these relatives is at that statistical One in Eight.  Not Yet.  Just Me.  Grandma.  So, I am a scratch off and so are my pals at that weekly card game, scrabble group, knitting circle or wherever EIGHT women who are older than 70 might be found in the same place.

Where are the rest?  Well, let's see.  According to the American Cancer Society and Dr. Susan Love, here are the facts:

My sister in her 60's?
1 in 26
My older daughter in her 50's?
1 in 37
My younger daughter in her 40's?
1 in 68
My niece in her 30's?
1 in 229
My granddaughter in her 20's?
1 in 2000

And now... The Envelope(s) Please.......

Different types of outers, and leveraging the color pin, are used to engage the donor prospect.

An affinity promotion that appeals to both salvation and greed!

See how the copy driver FEAR is powerfully wielded by the black Komen envelope — and their inventive use of the back of the outer envelope.

The true battle is defined by the copy, as the Susan G. Komen are even told that "Pink Ribbons are not enough."

And a reminder, this isn't about who has the best marketing technique.  It's about WHO IS GOING TO GET THE JOB DONE. And who is going to be honest and transparent and not play on our fears.  Fear isn't going to cure this.  Terror isn't going to do anything other than, ummm, terrify us.  Research.  Quoting from one of my favorite soundbites:  We are not going to screen our way to a cure.  Research.  Why?  How?  Fix it.  And then stop it from happening in the first place.  Fear and terror have no place in this conversation.  And neither does a lottery ticket.

Thank you to the good folks at DMIQTV for jumping in with this information and for posting it to the BCSM twitter feed. Nicely done.  Very nicely done, indeed! 


    1. Great post here AM in wading through the subliminal tricks and slick marketing techniques we see all too often in the breast cancer universe. But I think you really hit it home in demanding honesty and transparency rather than playing on our fears. Some have interpreted my posts about Komen to mean that I'm anti-pink. No what I want to see is this honesty and transparency. Given the amount of money that is at stake, why should we expect anything less?

      1. Rach,
        You know I am with you all the way on this one. The charity navigator sites are not good enough for me to determine who gets my money. I want to see what falls under the very broad piece of the pie chart under "programs." Reading the mission statements is a helpful start. As for the "subliminal tricks and slick techniques," that's nothing more than using the very best that Madison Avenue has to offer rather than being simple and direct. I remember Oprah (and I never watched her show with any regularity) talking about how "black packaging" sells. She was talking about, among other things, the Chanel line of makeup. In this case, that black envelope absolutely "popped" but when I saw the rest, i just reminded me of the grim reaper. Billions of dollars at stake. We need to see those dollars are used wisely.

    2. Thank you for the great post. Also thank you for dragging me through that "one in eight" meme again and helping me get it straight for now. Math is not my forte. The link to the video is broken. I poked around on the site and found one that worked here:

      1. Thank you for sharing that my chemobrain explanation which I believe is accurate helped. Math WAS my thing and now I can get a bit lost in the numbers! I appreciate you letting me know about the broken link. I fixed that and I also put the cut & paste version up there, too. It worked earlier but in case something happens again.... it's in the body of the post. I like their straightforward explanation.

    3. Nicely done by you as well, AnneMarie. Seems like marketers are having trouble with transparency. Transparency means honesty and that's not always sensational enough.

      1. Brenda,
        Thanks! Honesty is not sensational enough. Yes, that is so true and sadly, it's a disservice to so many. Those scratch off circles really got me...... especially knowing how I am surrounded by disease and how I worry for my daughter. She should be 1 in 2000. I don't know where her stats are now but it's at least double.... 1 in 1000.... Could be even higher.... Doesn't matter. At the end of the day, this is why I am so passionate about trying to use my voice to push organizations that make research and underserved women their priority.


    4. Just posted your article to my Facebook page. Thank you so much for your insights and comments. As a survivor myself, and also btw, treated at MSKCC, we have got to make strides to change the current pink campaign into something more productive and meaningful. Thanks again. Elaine Fazio-Mercado RN

      1. Elaine,

        I thank you for sharing my insights with your Facebook friends. Change the current pink campaign into something more productive..... Yes, absolutely. There are so many reasons we are stuck. We are the face of "cancer success" but it that really true? There is collateral damage from surgery, chemotherapy and the emotional effects of a cancer diagnosis. Dr. Love said it best when she said that in many ways we are victims of our own success.

        Thank you for taking the time to comment and to let me know you shared this, I do appreciate that!

        Best to you,


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