Komen’s Brand Equity Plummets According to Harris Poll: What Other Changes Are Afoot?

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March 26, 2012; Source: Wall Street Journal

The losses incurred as a result of Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s now-rescinded decision to defund Planned Parenthood continue unabated and are beginning to show the depth of the damage caused by that decision. While some Komen affiliates are struggling with declining participation and revenues in their Race for the Cure events, Eric Brinker, son of Komen founder Nancy Brinker, declared himself the most recent to resign from the organization – in this case the board of trustees.

Perhaps more telling is the fact that in an annual Harris Poll released today, Komen’s brand took a deep dive.  Komen is one of 79 nonprofits measured by the online survey, which queried 37,500 people; Komen descended from a number two ranking in a 2011 survey to a number 56 ranking in 2012 between Jan. 31 and Feb. 20.

In a statement from Robert Fronk Executive Vice President and Corporate Reputation Practice Head at Harris Interactive says, “Since it was first surveyed in EquiTrend, Susan G. Komen for the Cure has in many ways represented the ‘gold standard’ among non-profits measured in our study, consistently reporting high scores for quality, the willingness to recommend and, most importantly, trust. Now, Komen finds itself near the bottom of the pack on all of these items.” The prepared statement goes on to point out that “Stand Up to Cancer™, the American Cancer Society® and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation® – who, like SGK, are dedicated to the early detection and treatment of cancer – rank in the top 12 brands among all non-profits surveyed. Additionally, these three brands rank in the top four among health-focused non-profits, with Stand Up to Cancer ranked highest.” Going on to say that, “Negative feelings towards Susan G. Komen have also skyrocketed in the past year, from an extremely low 4% in 2011 to 18% now, a 350% increase.”

Komen has always, since it was first included in the study in 2008, ranked first or second among all nonprofits. As the Wall Street Journal notes, “The poll evaluates a brand’s overall strength, connection to consumers and donor interest, among other measures.”

Eric Komen’s position is reportedly to be filled by a representative of an affiliate. On another note, local executive directors report that they feel a new level of inclusiveness by the parent group toward the affiliates. “We’re getting a greater voice,” said one executive. –Ruth McCambridge

  • Simone P. Joyaux, ACFRE

    See also the articles about the Komen fiasco in the March 22, 2012 issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy. For the nonprofit sector, there’s lots to learn from this situation. Things like: An organization’s values and the role values play in decision-making. The quality of decision-making. Limitations of management and the role of the board (governance) in certain decisions. Planning for PR results. Planning for social media response. And more. As a long-time donor to Planned Parenthood Federation of America and my local Planned Parenthood affiliate – and as a board member of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England – this experience has been very informative.

  • Julie

    Perhaps I missed it, but as PP has taken some major hits this year as American’s have discovered that PP doesn’t protect underage women from statutory rape, incest, forced abortions, or trafficking or provide mammograms and provides the majority of abortions in the US (a majority of Americans think that abortion should be illegal), I’m not sure how it can be inferred from the information above that Komen’s reputation dropped because they decided to stop supporting PP and not because Americans actually found out that Komen had been supporting PP…

  • Mary Christine

    Komen took a hit with me for the following reasons:

    1. I had no idea they were funding Planned Parenthood. Clearly, breast exams are not PP’s mission, and I doubt that one person ever went there for a breast exam. Why not fund breast exams at the local gas station?

    2. I had respect for their courageous decision to defund PP (for about 20 minutes).

    3. I think anyone can see how desperate and spineless it was to rescind their decision.

    I am sure I am not alone in these conclusions, but of course, if answering a survey (which I have done about this), they don’t ask for any nuances. Just whether or not you have a more or less favorable opinion about SGK than before this debacle.