I had found out about Kohl’s partnership with Komen, ironically, when I was at Kohl’s.
An ever-loyal customer, I was at the cashier’s with my purchases, when I was handed Kohl’s Cash and told that a portion of my money would go to Susan G. Komen to find a cure for breast cancer.
I said, “I’m a breast cancer ‘survivor.'” The unknowing cashier — who was probably expecting a feel-good story about survival and my everlasting gratitude and allegiance to Kohl’s – said enthusiastically, “Oh, that’s wonderful!” I added, “You know, I was lucky. I’ve known too many people who weren’t as lucky.”
She got really quiet, fidgeted a bit, and then started to prattle on about how much I would save on my next purchase with Kohl’s, thanks to Kohl’s Cash. But I wouldn’t let her talk of saving money and breast cancer without her paying a price.
“I know of so many who didn’t make it,” I continued. “Huh?” she said. “They died,” I said. She averted her eyes, quickly gave me my receipt, and I left the store, feeling like I had just been had.
I walked to my car in shock but with enough wits about me to realize that the cashier really had nothing to do with this partnership.
Stealing the Elephant
During my interaction with the cashier, I was so shocked, I barely noticed an in-store announcement, something about a pink elephant. It sounded familiar, yet I couldn’t place it.
Later, I realized that the retailer stole and deliberately misused a campaign from METAvivor, an organization that creates awareness of metastatic breast cancer – the kind that kills – and raises funding for research.
In October 2012, METAvivor’s campaign communicated that metastatic breast cancer was largely ignored. It showed a graphic of an elephant and reads “During the ‘pink haze’ of Breast Cancer Awareness Month Don’t ignore Stage IV. The [elephant graphic] in the Pink Room”
It turns out that Kohl’s plagiarized METAvivor’s elephant in the pink room campaign. Besides showcasing a ridiculous imitation of METAvivor’s elephant, here is the Kohl’s-blundered version: “It’s [breast cancer itself] the (pink) elephant in the room. Let’s not ignore it. Together we can start the conversation about breast cancer.”
Hullo. We don’t need any more conversations about breast cancer. I mean, who the hell isn’t aware of breast cancer? We need a cure, and we need to be aware of metastatic breast cancer. Right now, people with metastatic disease are being swept under the proverbial pink carpet.
This. Must. Change.
Oh, and that’s not all, folks; Kohl’s thievery gets more bizarre. On the same web page a picture of supposedly sold-out pink elephant pendants are prominently displayed alongside the message, “We thank you for supporting the fight against breast cancer.”
Aw, shucks, Kohl’s. Won’t you please sell more pink elephant pendants so more of the general public can wear stolen intellectual property?
I’ve been used to the Susan G. Komen shtick for awhile now, but the Kohl’s debacle really took me off guard. And I’m not surprised that Kohl’s won’t do the right thing by admitting its elephant “faux pas” and no longer using the slogan.
So, now that I have my wits about me, I’m:
returning the merchandise,
cutting up my Kohl’s credit card,
telling Kohl’s to remove me from its mailing list,
and no longer shopping at Kohl’s.
Kohl’s slogan is “Expect Great Things,” but it should be changed to “Expect Distasteful Things.”
Something is rotten in the state of retail. And right now it is Kohl’s.
Related posts, many which illustrate the graphics discussed in this post.
Please feel free to weigh in on this “pink elephant” campaign and/or Kohl’s partnership with Komen.
Update: According to METAvivor’s blog dated March 13, 2014, “Neither Kohl’s nor Komen acknowledged that the campaign infringed on METAvivor’s rights, much less agreed to discontinue it. Instead, both Kohl’s and Komen claimed lack of knowledge of METAvivor’s use of the Elephant in the Pink Room, and tried to justify their actions.”
Tags: Kohl's, metastatic breast cancer, METAvivor, pink elephant, plagiarism and Kohl's, Susan G. Komen