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Yoplait's pink lid program is a great opportunity to get corporate America to pay their fair share.

That is, if you believe that rhetoric. I don't, but that's what someone said to me this week.

I groaned.

I don't buy it and you probably don't either.

Yoplait's pink lid program is really about selling yogurt. Lots of yogurt. Selling yogurt to women (the largest segment of yogurt eating market) that think they are doing the right thing by buying a brand of yogurt that helps fight breast cancer.

It's a marketing ploy that many people don't mind falling for. They think they're helping fight breast cancer and they are, but Yoplait's parent company, General Mills, is getting far more out of this bargain than breast cancer charities are getting. What's $2 million out of $15.19 billion in sales? A little over 1/10th of a point? That's not nearly enough to make me buy a brand of yogurt I don't particularly care for. Yogurt preferences aside, it's the ethical squirm factor that bothers me the most.

As a health care worker, I'm hesitant to criticize a program that contributes money toward ending breast cancer. That's a concern several of my health care working friends share. Do we criticize a contributor and risk them ending the program? Do we let it slide thinking there is some benefit? Does the Yoplait program encourage other corporate donors? Does the Yoplait pink lid program encourage more corporate scams? There are a lot of concerns that have merit. Breast cancer is a serious disease that touches a lot of lives; how many good people are deceived through "me too" programs that don't deliver the money?

The Yoplait pink lid program has improved over the years. At first the only way to pry pennies per lid out of Yoplaits tight fisted hand was to mail in the lids. The costs to Yoplait to receive, open the mail, count the lids and attribute them to the local area that sent in the lids increase every year. I suspect the rising costs of the program plus the yuck factor from improperly cleaned lids had something to do with adding their current on line system. Although the on line system is an improvement it is limited to 25 lids per day. True, 25 yogurt lids is a lot of yogurt, but if you have a bowl at work encouraging people to drop their lids, it's not.

The point is why do we have to do anything other than buy yogurt with the pink lids? Yoplait capped their contribution at $2 million for 2011. So why the charade? Why not just cut the check and send it into Komen? Why should we need to redeem the codes or send in the lids? You can't make me believe that Yoplait doesn't know down to the last unit how many cups of yogurt are sold. You can't make me believe Yoplait doesn't know what every neighborhood grocery store sells in yogurt. Even if the yogurt is sold at a distribution warehouse to convenience store owners, Yoplait still knows how many cups of yogurt were sold and in what general vicinity the yogurt was sold. You can't make me believe Yoplait doesn't gather and use this data with their marketing team to increase yogurt sales in under "performing" areas. It's a simple, but effective strategy to keep Yoplait's logo in the customer's mind.

Others criticize the program because they don't like Susan B Komen For the Cure. I'm not one of those people. There are breast cancer charity scams, but Komen, IMO, isn't one of them. A Komen grant in South Florida funds a program for uninsured and under insured women to get free screening mammograms and $40 co pay diagnostic mammograms plus low co pay breast biopsies and cancer treatment. It funds a mobile mammography unit that goes into low income neighborhoods where people have trouble getting to brick and mortar mammography centers. It's making a huge difference in my community. I can't speak for your community, but Komen is coming through for mine and they are likely coming through for yours too. I can't begrudge Komen for taking Yoplait's money and although I thank Yoplait; I'm not feeling any great loyalty to the Yoplait brand as this program is too cumbersome and sticky. If any other yogurt company simply said, we're going to contribute 10 cents for every cup/pint or quart sold and please, dispose of the container properly; Yoplait would be dumped by yogurt consumers in a heart beat.

Yoplait may be doing the right thing, but make no mistake, they're doing it for the wrong reasons. I suggest to most people who ask me that they directly mail a check or donate on line to Komen for the Cure or whatever reputable cancer charity they choose. That way, you get to take the deduction yourself. I'd only buy the yogurt if I liked it.

Originally posted to JDWolverton on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 06:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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