Susan G. Komen for the Cure Got it Right

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Got it Right

In the words of Jeff Terpstra, President of Scott Allen Creative:


In October in Michigan, we admire the beautiful fall colors on the trees, the crimsons, yellows, and oranges. Yet there is another color that shows up everywhere.


We see pink on cereal boxes, garbage containers, in retail stores, corporate ads, football uniforms, and practically anywhere you can imagine.

It was 9am on a sunny Saturday morning in October.

I was driving past the largest local shopping district when I noticed a sea of people in the parking lot. I was curious as to why they were there. They were several hundred feet away from me and all I could see was white and pick. I wondered “What event is taking place on this beautiful fall morning?”. There must have been hundreds of people in that parking lot, but I didn’t know why they were there. I then became mentally distracted with the work that I needed to accomplish that morning as I was heading toward a local coffee shop.

About an hour and a half later, as I was working intently on my laptop, I noticed a stream of customers entering Panera Bread. They were coming in groups of about 2-5 people. Everyone was wearing a white or pink shirt, they all had either a Susan G. Komen for the Cure logo or the message that told me they were fighting breast cancer.

And then it hit me.

Each one of these people had awoke that Saturday morning with one purpose. They had a mission that day. Each one got out of bed, put on a cause related t-shirt, running shorts and athletic shoes. That morning they were to sacrifice everything – their lovers, their children, their Saturday freedom, for a cause they believed in. They gave their bodies to run 5 kilometers (about 3 miles). After the run, some of them entered Panera Bread to celebrate their success in achieving their goal of raising money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Why did they do this?

They had been won over for a cause they believed in.

What made this organization the number one brand in fighting cancer in women?

Preceding the founding of Susan G. Komen in 1982, many other cancer-research and cancer-fighting causes existed before this one, the American Cancer Society and St. Jude’s to name a couple. In 1982, breast Cancer was not the number-one killer cancer among women, but somehow Susan G. Komen captured our hearts and moved us to support finding the cure for cancer even above and beyond the similar organizations that already existed. How?
In this book we will learn about one of their keys to success, and how, even though other brands came ahead of them, they won the day. They intuitively knew the secret of how to bridge the heart of their mission with the hearts of thousands of volunteers, donors, foundations, corporate sponsors, music artists and athletes.

We ask ourselves “Why is that?”.

The founder, Nancy Brinker began Susan G. Komen for the Cure in dedication to a promise she made her dying sister in 1982, along with $200 in a shoebox.

35 years later, their total assets was $347,909,642 (in the 2017 Annual Report). That is $347,909,442 more than what was in their shoebox in 1982.

Before 1982, there had been many other organizations who were fighting cancer. But Susan G. Komen for the Cure got it right.

They captured our heart.

Think about it. When we think of cancer research or cancer fighting brands, there is no other brand that has captured our heart like Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Her appeal is so simple. Yet, it is profound. It is personal. It is real.

“I lost my sister to breast cancer, I don’t want you to lose someone you love to breast cancer. So together, let’s fight our enemy breast cancer.

She made an emotional connection with us. She made it personal. She lost a sister to breast cancer. She didn’t want you to experience the same loss. So let’s fight together and eradicate this horrible disease. You can join me in this cause.


No one else should experience this loss. YOU should not experience this pain. Together let’s fight this enemy of breast cancer. Together let’s win.


I remember watching an interview where the founder, Nancy Brinker explained that she believes that on of the three pillars she believes in for nonprofits to be successful is to invest in your message.

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