Feb 6, 2012
The best public relations move in recent days for the Susan G. Komen Foundation was to announce its about face on Super Bowl weekend. By the time the last of the pizza and beer had been consumed, consumers were rehashing Super Bowl bowl ads.
Last week’s nightmare of “they fund us, they fund us not” isn’t about funding at all. It’s about who the Susan G. Komen Foundation is. It’s about the organization’s values, priorities and purpose. It’s the up close and personal part of branding that decidedly determines who you are and what you stand for regardless of public sentiment. And therein lies the multi-level problem for this pink-until-you-puke group.
Based on last week’s turn of events, the group doesn’t seem convicted about its core brand. Sure, there are multiple strategic questions such as:
* Didn’t they consider the 2009 HHS debacle regarding age guidelines for mammograms?
* Didn’t they anticipate the types and depths of backlash?
* As a colleague in Chicago astutely suggested, didn’t they even contemplate phasing out funding for Planned Parenthood as opposed to a huge announcement?
Even if those and other vital circumstances were debated ad nauseam, the reality is that a wonderful cause - to save women’s lives – was founded in 1982 following the unimaginable pain of losing a loved one to breast cancer.
And that’s the point – the purpose of the organization is to help women be healthy. If you’ve hung your hat on that mission, then own it. If society, fundraising and/or the political climate impacts that bottom-line point, then either adapt accordingly or stick to your guns. Too many businesses lose sight of their fundamental purpose and end up with much less conviction, which leads to counterproductivity, inconsistent branding and, in this case, headline news.
Just be who you are. Know who you are. Own who you are. I promise, you’ll be much more effective.