Awareness Enrichment, #5 (Kroger)

I walk into my local Kroger and next to the cart wipes is a picture of a Kroger employee, pink background, breast cancer story.  Traffic flows to the right, through the pink bouquets of flowers and pink ribbon mylar balloons.  All through the store I see shelf tags that say “Giving Hope A Hand” and at the end of the self-checkout there is a whole wall of these products, adorned in special edition pink.  That’s where I snapped the pink ribbon booze picture the other day.

Last week, I posted guidelines to vet these pink ribbon campaigns.  I think it’s best to start with what’s in front of you and with one teenager, one near-teenager, and a husband who sometimes thinks he’s a teenager, I spent a lot of time at Kroger.

And I know you do too because I see you there.

So what is this Giving Hope a Hand?  I pulled up the weekly flyer from Kroger’s website:


Ok, we have the ribbon, some soda, chips, cookies, and a few other items.  I still don’t really see details, so I click on their option to see more detail.


Apparently, “we” are donating $3 million to local organizations in support of a cure.

I would think the “we” is Kroger, but there are also participating brands, so maybe that’s the total pledged by participating organizations.  And Kroger?

And local where?  Kroger is headquartered in our fair Queen City, but located all over the country.  What communities get the money and how much?

What does “in support of the cure” mean?  How does this program decide who gets the money and who makes the decisions?   If you think the website will give you details, think again.  Just more brand logos, pink ribbons, and the occasional misleading fact.

And nowhere does it say that the $3,000,000 is contingent upon you buying the festooned mac and cheese versus the mac and cheese without a pink ribbon.

So what is really going on here?

It’s an advertising campaign. 

Aren’t we noble with our philanthropy?  Buy our products and you, too, can be noble and deserving of many pats on the back.   What?  You want to know what we’re actually doing? Never mind.  Just know we’re good and you are too.  Everyone gets a pink trophy.  

If you want to know more about these pink campaigns, check out After Five Years’ post on the psychology of pink.  Develop some awareness of how we are manipulated by marketing campaigns.


8 thoughts on “Awareness Enrichment, #5 (Kroger)”

  1. it is unbelievable that manipulation of our emotions, the statistics and the sales techniques….I am sad and angry. Bed Bath and Beyond is a plethora of marketing…all pinked up and trying to make you aware that breast cancer exists…we need to keep on with this kind of writing Katie…go get em girl!

  2. Let’s call them. Call the communications department at Kroger’s. Hey! We heard you’re giving $3 million to breast cancer. That’s a lot of money, who’s getting it?

    What? You’re kidding. You haven’t decided yet?

    What do you mean you haven’t decided. Is October a surprise? Is Halloween a surprise? Surely piles of pink candy aren’t a surprise, either.

    And I’m sure you’re aware of the link between obesity and breast cancer in general and recurrence, also? So where’s the pennies for apples campaign? Or helping patients in need.

    So let’s go back to square one. $3 million dollars. What’s the sum total of groceries sold to generate that large of a donation.

    Yes, I know grocery stories have very narrow margins.

    Yes, we’ve heard that Kroger is an upstanding corporate citizien and yes, I still want to know what you’re doing with that $3 million.

    You don’t know. Well, at least that is honest.

  3. I will tell you they sponsored our local Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Cincinnati this past weekend. I don’t know how much the donation was (not $3,000,000,) but they also had a team, and volunteers there. I’m not saying it’s not a marketing gimmick, but they were there.
    Re: the Pantene post, I work in the local ACS office, and we have received some of the Pantene wigs. They are well made, and actually free, unlike Locks of Love. And the women who have taken them have left the office happy. One woman told me it gives her a small lift, and something to control.
    I’m not trying to be the sappy simp, buying into the corporate line. I can tell you that those of us working on the local level want to do something good for someone else.

    1. Missy,

      I saw a Making Strides ad at my local Kroger yesterday. I am not doubting that they donate money, I’m asking for specifics. I know the acs has a wig program, but I am positive that Pantene could solicit the hair without the requirement to buy product at Walmart first.

      Check out my post this coming Friday where I talk about people who ant to help vs companies that want to profit.

      Thanks for weighing in,

  4. Ah, I checked today. They donated $100,000 to the Cincinnati Making Strides. They spread it out in different areas, but I don’t know anything more specific than that. So I can account for $100,000 of the $3 milliion…:)

  5. And I definitely appreciate your stance, and agree with a great deal. I have put a lot more thought and consideration into where my dollars and energy go since I started working for a non-profit. And your posts over the past few years have made me think before buying pink – every time. If you can’t be specific about where that money is going, I’m not going to buy it.

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