The posts and tweets were flying through social media yesterday after the Susan G. Komen Foundation withdrew its funding for Planned Parenthood. I certainly added to the noise.
While I disagree with SGK’s decision, I recognize that Planned Parenthood is controversial. It’s been demonized by the political and religious right as an abortion provider/baby killer. Yet Planned Parenthood is widely loved among those who support rights for women and women’s reproductive health. And that would be me.
Now that you know where I stand on the issue, let’s look at the PR ramifications.
If you’re an SGK corporate partner, you’re sitting in your office today waiting for the shit to hit the fan. Will supporters of Planned Parenthood call for a boycott of your products? Will your corporate logo be plastered across the Internet under: “Companies That Hate Women”?
It’s certainly a possibility.
One of my tweets last night asked those who disagree with Komen to contact corporate sponsors and let them know how you feel. I’m guessing an organization as large and PR savvy as SGK told its supporters this was coming. The smart ones have a response ready. So let’s hear it.
Pink moves product. Until yesterday, SGK’s little pink ribbon was marketing gold for companies licensed to use it. After all, breast cancer is the most favored charity among women, and women still make a majority of the purchasing decisions in American households — at least when it comes to consumables.
None of those corporate partners wants its brand associated with ugly social-media campaigns, let alone political and religious acrimony. It’s bad for business.
And let’s be honest, a partnership with SGK is more likely driven by marketing objectives than corporate generosity. One blogger I know has been questioning corporate motives on the “pink” issue for a good long time — only to be shouted down by the do-gooders
Intentions of SGK’s corporate supporters are not the issue today. The issue is how Komen’s surprising decision on Planned Parenthood will play with women across the land. How will it alter brand perceptions and ultimately purchasing decisions?
Most women I know — even the good Catholics — aren’t buying the “demon” label the right has assigned Planned Parenthood. Instead, they see an organization that supports women’s reproductive health — particularly those women in lower income brackets.
Not one of them is happy with SGK today. Not one.
Those who champion cause marketing will now take a closer look at the risks involved with the practice. In a day or two, reporters will be asking the companies that support SGK — 3M, Ford, Crayola, Dell and others — if they’ll continue waving the pink ribbon.
How would you answer that one?
Aside: A number of friends on Facebook and Twitter told me they’ll shift their dollars to the American Cancer Society, a group that also supports breast-cancer research. It’s also the group that gave its CEO a $2.2-million compensation package last year. You OK with that?