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It’s Just A Little Bottle of Perfume, Or Is It?

Sometimes those of us in the breast cancer blogosphere are accused of taking things too seriously and maybe we do at times; with our permanently altered viewpoint from cancer world, it’s hard sometimes not to. How can you possibly be upset about a tiny bottle of perfume you might wonder?

Last week when I heard about the latest “round of discontent,” I thought, really? It’s just a little bottle of perfume isn’t it? Is it really that big a deal? Well no, in and of itself, it isn’t such a big deal. It is just a little bottle of perfume and purchasing this particular fragrance and dabbing on a little won’t really matter. Or will it?

For those of you who are unaware, the latest venture by Susan G. Komen for the Cure to hit the market and stir things up a bit in cancer world is a new fragrance marketed in a lovely pinkish/lavenderish bottle which, of course, is also adorned with the infamous pink ribbon. The name of the fragrance is Promise Me. It’s supposed to be yet another tribute to Nancy Brinker’s (founder of Komen) late sister who died of metastatic breast cancer. It’s meant to symbolize the promise one sister made to the other about doing everything she could to end breast cancer. As an added bonus, when you purchase the fragrance, it also comes with a pink rubber bracelet you can wear “to help you remember promises you have made.”

Does this sound down right patronizing, perhaps even bordering on insulting to anyone else? It does to me. I can remember my own promises, thank you very much.

Perhaps Komen should remember its own promise; the one about racing for a cure.

Komen’s partner in this venture, TPR Holdings, has pledged 13.5% of all Promise Me sales to Komen. It is also worth noting this partnership is, in and of itself, controversial since pairing up with a company that sells what some believe to be potentially toxic cosmetic products doesn’t seem to fit very well with Komen’s cure mission. But that’s another topic.

The bottle of perfume is priced at $59. If you order online, you can receive Nancy Brinker’s book, also called Promise Me. Or if you prefer, you can shop via the Home Shopping Network and make your purchase there. Nancy Brinker recently made an appearance on the HSN to promote the new “Scent of Inspiration.”

Yes, breast cancer is now featured on the HSN. And I’m not entirely sure what/who the inspiration is for? Is it breast cancer awareness in a bottle?

This is where it all started sounding more than a little off to me.  Does this feel like using breast cancer to sell a product to you? And they aren’t even waiting until October.

On the Komen fragrance website the fragrance is promoted as “A Gift for Anyone That Supports Everyone.” Really? Pretty ingenious marketing there I’d say. They literally have everyone on the planet covered in that catch-all phrase don’t they?

This sounds way more like marketing strategy for a product/profit rather than marketing strategy for finding/funding a cure for breast cancer.

There is a huge difference.

It feels like another means to slap a pink ribbon onto a product, encourage people to buy it and lead them to believe they are doing something good for a worthwhile cause.

Once again, people are led to believe that buying pretty pink stuff (and now we can add pretty smelling stuff too) equals meaningful action toward finding a cure for breast cancer. Once again, people are wrongfully being misled into believing pink consumption equals productive action for a cure.

It doesn’t, but what if…

What if Komen had decided to market this little bottle of perfume differently and put every possible penny earned from every single bottle sold toward research, even better, toward metastatic breast cancer research? 

Now that would have been making a new kind of statement.

Instead it feels like just more of the same. More product to sell. More dollars for awareness. Few dollars for research. No cure in sight.

Is this the “Scent of Inspiration”?

To me it “smells” a little off.

What do you think?


Danika @ Your Organic Life

Friday 10th of June 2011

My big issue with this venture is that the perfume likely contains phthalates and other hormone disrupting chemicals. How does that help cure breast cancer?

Posting your article on the Pinkwashing Hall of Shame page on facebook (


Friday 10th of June 2011

Danika, Thank you for commenting and for sharing my post on PHS. I agree, it is pretty ridiculous and doesn't seem to fit in with Komen's mission any way you look at it.

Amy West

Tuesday 7th of June 2011

I wasn't even aware of their marketing tag line for this - yikes. Yeah, I'd say they've got it covered!

Nancy Brinker isn't compensated by Komen according to Charity Navigator. That's probably because she's busy making a damn mint from her book, etc-. What would Susan say?


Wednesday 8th of June 2011

Amy, Thank you so much for checking out my blog and for commenting as well. I really appreciate it. The marketing strategy for this latest product is pretty ingenious isn't it? All the bases are covered. And yes, I wonder what Susan would say too.


Saturday 4th of June 2011

I sum up: bleccchhh!


Saturday 4th of June 2011

Dorry, It's good to see you leaving a comment! I really appreciate your thoughts and I certainly know where you stand on this, Dorry!! Thank you for sharing.

Susan Beausang

Friday 3rd of June 2011

Pinked out and stinked out! Good post


Saturday 4th of June 2011

Susan, Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. You voiced your thoughts perfectly! Thanks!

Sharon Simpson

Friday 3rd of June 2011

If only it were that easy, right? Now we should be ready for a manly aftershave for those men suffering with prostate cancer! Talk about trivializing such a serious subject... it makes me livid! And not a 'pink' livid, but a boiling, bright RED livid!! Walker, MN has an annual Walk for the Cure. The local chair of it lost her dad to cancer. She is very sincere about trying to help others with cancer, but maybe she should be selling this innocuous perfume, right?


Friday 3rd of June 2011

Sharon, Thanks for sharing your thoughts so descriptively! I don't fault the person you speak of or any other of the volunteers and participants. I know they have good intentions. The problem is at the top.

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