Cause-Related Marketing Highlights Nancy Brinker’s Visit to Carey
In the early 1980s, Nancy Brinker made a promise to her dying sister Susan that she would take up the fight against the debilitating and largely mysterious disease that was killing her. She knew it would be tough, but to say fighting against breast cancer decades ago was an uphill battle would be a huge understatement.
“In those days, you could not use the word ‘breast’ out loud in any radio, news, TV or print,” Brinker said. “Cancer was the ‘big C.’ It was considered a terrible epidemic; many people thought it was contagious. … In addition, there were no good treatments for breast cancer. The research was minimal. We really had no idea what to do about cancer.”
Since its founding by Brinker in 1982, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has grown into one of the most prominent cancer-fighting organizations in the world, having invested over $2.9 billion in breast cancer research, education, screening, and treatment in that time.
So how did they do it? According to Brinker, through the power of cause-related marketing.
Last week, Brinker visited the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School to discuss those marketing efforts, among other topics, and to visit with Carey students.
In a public one-on-one interview with Carey Professor and Vice Dean for Faculty and Research Valerie Suslow on Sept. 14, Brinker detailed the challenges she faced while founding the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the strategies she used to raise awareness for breast cancer, and the future of social-cause marketing. She also fielded questions from some of the 80 students, faculty, and staff in attendance.
The event was part of the school’s In-Person at Carey speaker series, which aims to bring speakers to the school whose experiences resonate with Carey’s mission and values.
“Breast cancer cause-related marketing and the billions it has yielded for research is an excellent example of business with humanity in mind, which is what we believe in here at the Carey Business School,” Suslow said.