Think Pink

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Think Pink

By Bridget Goldschmidt, EnsembleIQ - 09/01/2010

When it comes to the battle against breast cancer, retailers and suppliers are both on the front lines.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month may not be until October, but many grocery retailers and suppliers are equally committed to combating the deadly disease through year-round initiatives. Nevertheless, the month-long occasion is when such promotions are most visible.

One standout among consumer packaged goods companies in this regard is Minneapolis-based General Mills, which runs the "Pink Together" program, named for the color designated to represent breast cancer awareness and featuring many of the manufacturer's well-known brands, as well as the store-level participation of a raft of major supermarket retailers.

"Pink Together complements General Mills' 12-year corporate commitment with Susan G. Komen for the Cure in support of the breast cancer community," notes Andrea Stein, the foodmaker's manager, corporate events. "We have donated nearly $35 million together with Yoplait's 'Save Lids to Save Lives' and sponsorship of Komen's Race for the Cure — making General Mills the largest consumer packaged goods company to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure."

The genesis of this highly successful program, according to Stein, was General Mills' desire to aid in stamping out this all-too-common cancer. "Given the fact that one in eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and an estimated 1 million Americans are living with undiagnosed breast cancer, General Mills was intent on doing whatever it could to help raise even greater awareness of the disease and to support the millions of people impacted by breast cancer — including many in the General Mills family," she explains. "Thus, the Pink Together campaign was born in October 2007."

Stein says that the multibrand program offers "exciting, cross-category merchandising opportunities for retailers, while also making a difference in the lives of consumers." The way it does this is through offering an assortment of General Mills brands in special Pink Together packaging during the month of October to engage and educate consumers about the importance of breast cancer awareness." Participating brands include Yoplait, Cheerios Cereal, Green Giant Frozen Vegetables and Nature Valley Granola Bars. Additionally, "as we have done in the past, General Mills is partnering with a number of major national retailers that will carry our 'pink' products for this year's campaign," notes Stein.

Created to help those affected by breast cancer find strength in numbers, Pink Together also aims to raise awareness of the disease through PinkTogether.com, an online community of over 680,000 survivors and their supporters, and donation to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. "This year, General Mills donated $2 million to the Komen organization to advance breast cancer research and support education and community outreach projects," Stein says. "To encourage personal connections, General Mills will also donate an additional $1 to Komen for each inspirational story submitted, comment posted or virtual flower sent on PinkTogether.com (up to $20,000) and each shared message of hope posted on Pink Together's Facebook fan page (up to $5,000) during October.

Further, each year, the campaign chooses Pink Together Survivor Ambassadors, women so honored for their ability to motivate others through their personal survival experiences. "Our 2010 Ambassadors will share their personal stories through online profiles and videos on PinkTogether.com, on our Pink Together Facebook fan page, on a Pink Together YouTube channel and through our pink packaging," says Stein.

This year, although "[t]he campaign will largely operate in much the same way as it has in the past," according to Stein, five new Pink Together Survivor Ambassadors will work to inspire others, and a new feature on the site will be a behind-the-scenes video featuring these courageous women.

Stein characterizes the response to the still-expanding program, which won the 2010 Halo Cause Marketing Best Digital Campaign award, as "tremendous." To date, the company has contributed about $9.7 million to the Komen organization through the campaign, placing General Mills in the rarefied status of the Komen Million Dollar Council Elite, a group of sponsors and partners that have pledged a financial contribution of $1 million or more annually to help put a stop to breast cancer.

"We … are anticipating even greater participation as we move toward our five-year anniversary next year," she adds.

Retail Relief

Among retailer-helmed projects aiding breast cancer awareness, wide-ranging initiatives from Kroger and Safeway are in the forefront.

"With the help of key vendor partners who share our commitment to eradicating this cancer — and providing support to those who face it — the Kroger family of stores once again will be 'Giving Hope A Hand' by investing $3 million for breast cancer awareness, treatment and research in the communities we share," the Cincinnati-based grocer notes on its website.

According to Kroger, funds raised by the annual promotion, which launched in 2006, "will assist dozens of local organizations fighting breast cancer in our communities across the country — supporting research projects, funding mammograms and educational outreach, and assisting local support groups for women and families."

This will to end breast cancer extends nationwide to the company's associates, who take part in such major fundraisers as Race for the Cure, the American Cancer Society's "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" program, and the Walk to Empower Mother's Day events of Breast Cancer Network of Strength.

For some members of the Kroger family, however, the fight is also personal. "This year, a special group of our associates who have faced breast cancer are bravely sharing their stories of survival — to offer encouragement and hope to others dealing with the disease," the company says. "During the month of October, their inspirational accounts will be featured in our stores on specially marked packages of a variety of national and corporate brand products." The stories will also appear on the dedicated website www.sharingcourage.com.

Much of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway's work against breast cancer has been performed through The Safeway Foundation, which began raising funds for cancer research in 2001.

"In 2009, Safeway raised more than $18 million for breast cancer research, bringing the total to more than $78 million over the last eight years," the grocer notes on its website. "The Safeway Foundation collaborates with leading cancer centers across the country to identify cutting-edge research programs and trials. Some of these cancer centers are working jointly on projects to expand the pool of volunteers for clinical trials and bring together the best and brightest minds in scientific research."

"We are anticipating even greater participation as we move toward the fifth anniversary of 'Pink Together' next year."

-Andrea Stein, General Mills

Among these projects is the I-SPY program, a partnership between the National Cancer Institute and 14 cancer centers across the United States that aims to jump-start the development of more personalized clinical breast cancer trials for those with the disease.

The foundation has also funded such important initiatives as mobile mammography programs in partnership with regional medical institutions, as a way to improve breast cancer awareness and detection, and the ATHENA Breast Health Network, an innovative large-scale project with the goal of integrating clinical care and research to enhance the prevention, screening, treatment and management of breast cancer.

Last year, besides being able to support the cause through check-stand donations, Safeway shoppers could receive the gift of a free themed cooler bag with the purchase of $30 worth of participating dairy/refrigerated Breast Cancer Awareness products, while supplies lasted. The bag normally sold for $1.99, with a dollar of that cost going to support local breast cancer research and awareness efforts.

In addition to the aforementioned cooler bag promotion focusing on the dairy and refrigerated aisles, many other products across the retailer's stores were marked with pink-ribbon tags indicating that for every $30 purchase of such items, $5 would go to support local and national breast cancer charities, up to $2.5 million. Participating brands in the "Together for a Cure" promotion included such stalwarts as Coca-Cola, Head & Shoulders shampoo, Listerine mouthwash, Charmin bath tissue, Duracell batteries, Tide Laundry Essentials, Viva paper towels, Green Giant green beans & corn, Campbell's soup, Del Monte canned fruit, Aunt Jemima syrup, Fresh Express salads, Ragu pasta sauce, Ronzoni pasta, Kraft dressing, Oscar Mayer Deli Shaved Meat and Kellogg's Pop Tarts, along with many of the grocer's private label offerings under the Safeway and O Organics brands.

Tossed in the Ring

Tossed, a restaurant concept specializing in garden-fresh salads, crepe wraps and sandwiches, has rolled out its first-ever bottled salad dressings for retail sale — in aid of a worthy cause. Now available at the chain's New York location on Park Avenue South as well as all Gristede's grocery stores in Manhattan, Tossed bottled dressings in the eatery's two most popular varieties — Sherry Wine Vinaigrette and Balsamic Vinaigrette — enable fans enjoy their favorite Tossed salad flavors at home while helping fight cancer through a partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

"Ever since we opened our flagship Park Avenue location 12 years ago, people have been asking us if they could take our original dressings home with them. They finally wore us down," explained Eric Clark, COO of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Tossed Franchise Corp. "What's more, every time a Tossed bottled dressing is purchased, a portion of the proceeds goes to the Greater New York City chapter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, providing much-needed support to the battle to end breast cancer."

The exclusive dressing varieties suit all types of salads, and can also be used as marinades and flavorings, according to the company. Tossed, which also operates restaurants in Boston; Morrisville, N.C.; Franklin, Tenn.; Houston; and Scottsdale, Ariz.; adds that it hopes to expand both its selection, and its distribution, of bottled dressings in the future.

As well as donating 2.5 percent of the retail price of each bottled dressing sale to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Tossed has committed to a minimum total donation of $10,000. For more information, visit www.tossed.com.