Pink ribbons show power of color as brand symbol

Filed under: Retail |

Pale pink is catching on in a big way.

Pink ribbons were first given out in 1992 to raise awareness about breast cancer, a disease that the American Cancer Society estimates will kill 40,970 women in 2006.

Now the number of companies and items supporting breast cancer awareness seems limitless, showing just how successful using “color as a brand symbol” can be.

With Breast Cancer Awareness Month under way, the pink ribbons are a way for companies to gain extra publicity.

As a marketing strategy, thinking pink allows companies to recast themselves as socially responsible corporations dedicated to women’s health (and female consumers), or simply to increase brand awareness with mentions in media roundups of fund-raising products.

While there is no single owner of the pink ribbon symbol, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation owns the specific style of pink ribbon that appears on its logo, as does the Komen Foundation.

Everyone appears to benefit from the pink campaign.

Breast cancer patients and researchers can benefit from the money raised and consumers can engage in feel-good shopping.

And some companies even see a surge in sales or orders.

Campbell’s Soup, for example, saw a 100 percent increase in orders of its tomato and chicken noodle soups from the Kroger grocery store chain during its pink promotion.

As Advertising Age reports, Kroger usually purchases 3.5 million cans to sell in October.

This year, the first for the pink cans, Kroger ordered 7 million cans.

Campbell will donate $250,000 to the Komen Foundation — about 3.5 cents per can.

Some analysts say that the proliferation of pink products is diluting the impact of breast-cancer awareness campaigns, and wonder whether companies will be able to maintain product awareness after Breast Cancer Awareness Month ends or after public interest dwindles?

Yet, color as a brand strategy appears to have limitless potential.

UPS has made the color brown its own. IBM is often associated with its nickname, Big Blue, in reference to its logo.

And the Lance Armstrong Foundation is quickly making yellow — used in the organization’s Live Strong bracelets — another cancer symbol.

Crocs get new, personalized look

Proud owners of the popular Colorado-based Crocs shoes can now tell their footwear apart from everyone else’s.

Thanks to a creative mother, owners can personalize their Crocs with various decorations.

Crocs Inc. has purchased family owned Jibbitz LLC for $10 million, and could cough up another $10 million based on the company hitting certain earnings targets.

Sheri Schmelzer, the founder of Jibbitz, created snap on decorations for her three children to personalize their Crocs.

Now the company has more than 300 designs that are sold through 4,000 retail outlets in the United States and Europe.

“With Crocs becoming more and more popular, we have seen our sales rise right along with them,” Schmelzer said. “Thousands of customers have now bought Jibbitz through our Web site, and in response to demand we now have retail locations in almost every part of the country.”

Boulder-based Jibbitz will operate as a subsidiary of Crocs. Schmelzer will remain with Jibbitz as chief design officer and her husband, Rich, will continue as president of the company.

Crocs unveiled its first model in November 2002, and since then has grown its product line to 18 models.

The company posted a $17 million profit last year on revenue of $108.6 million. For 2004, Crocs lost $1.5 million on revenue of $13.5 million.

Crocs are everywhere.

They are in sporting-goods chains and shopping-mall kiosks, hospital gift stores and bike shops.

Their largest single retailer is Dillard’s, and they are sold in more than 20 countries.

The charms sell for $2.49 each. Buy them online at, or at numerous locations in Colorado Springs including: Regency Hallmark stores, Coach House Gifts at Chapel Hills Mall, Journey’s at The Citadel Mall, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Mountain West Trading in Manitou Springs.

Chefs search for new CEO comes to a close

After months of searching for someone to fill Jon Medved’s shoes, Chefs has found a new president and CEO.

After 32 years as direct marketing executive, Medved is retiring and Patrick Wynhoff has been appointed to take his place.

“We began looking for a new CEO in February. It’s been a long search but definitely worth the effort. Patrick brings exactly the experience for which we have been looking. He’s worked successfully in catalog, Internet and retail; so he’s a perfect fit for Chefs,” said Medved, who will remain a shareholder and director of the company.

Wynhoff previously worked for Williams-Sonoma Inc., where he was responsible for the conceptualization and the launch of two of the company’s fastest growing divisions: Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen. Prior to that, Wynhoff was part of the team that launched Eddie Bauer Home and also led home design, merchandising and planning at Garnet Hill.

Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.