Last week, I was watching television and happened to see a commercial for the 5-hour energy drink. Normally, I’d change the channel, but what got my attention was the fact that they had partnered up with Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC), an organization that I’ve followed over the years and loved. They do some great things for breast cancer survivors like hosting an 800 number hotline, organizing an annual conference for metastatic breast cancer survivors and partnering with the Young Survival Coalition in presenting their annual C4YW conference for young breast cancer survivors. I was so surprised to see that they had partnered with the 5-hour energy drink during the month of October. I couldn’t believe that LBBC had lowered themselves to the level of promoting the consuming of chemicals to create awareness and donations for their organization!
I sent an email to LBBC and here’s the response I received from Jean Sachs, CEO LBBC:
“Hi Vicki, I received your email last week and wanted to take some time to gather my thoughts before responding. First thank you for voicing your concerns it is really important for me to hear from those that support and have benefited from LBBC’s programs and services. I want you to know that this was an issue that was hotly debated at a Board meeting in February and the decision to partner with 5-hour energy was not made lightly. The exact concerns that you voice regarding the product were expressed, and the board weighed and considered them all, not so much against the money that LBBC would be receiving as a result of the sponsorship, which is substantial, but more against the opportunity to reach a community of women that LBBC would otherwise never have access to.
In conjunction with this tie in to 5-Hour Energy is exposure in the NASCAR community, which is a very large audience. It presents LBBC with an opportunity to reach a community that it would never otherwise reach. Ultimately, and only after much deliberation, did the Board conclude that the benefits of the increased exposure would further the organizations vision and to move ahead with the partnership.
You should also know that as a result of this debate, the Board adopted more formalized guidelines for making these decisions, to ensure that the very concerns you now raise are fully vetted before a final decision is made, and particularly that we ensure LBBC does not associate with any companies, associations or entities whose product(s) have a proven link to an unhealthy lifestyle. That was considered here, but I think many were swayed by the fact that 5 Hour Energy has less caffeine than a grande coffee at Starbucks.
Lastly, you should know that since the decision was made, LBBC has found 5-Hour Energy to be a great partner. The NASCAR events at Dover Speedway a few weeks ago were truly impressive and inspiring, and I will say that many Board Members who were most critical of the relationship have only voiced round support after seeing the event in action.
The good news is our Breast Cancer Helpline has been ringing more than ever before. Yesterday calls were answered from women in need of support form Lagrange, GA, Chicago, Knoxville, Houston, Florida, Delaware and Pennsylvania many of these women heard about LBBC because of the recent exposure in the national media.
I just want you to know that in this instance, after weighing all of the factors, LBBC, with the Board’s full support decided that the potential benefits to LBBC and its goals were most important and I truly believe that since we started the relationship, the Board’s vision has turned out to be correct.”
Here’s my response to Jean:
Thank you, Jean for replying to my email and addressing my concerns. I’m so happy that your hotline is ringing off the hook, as survivors across the US definitely need support! As the founder of a small nonprofit, I completely understand the temptation to partner with a national organization that would increase awareness of your organization as well as donations. And I’m sure your board had a very hot debate on this matter, but one thing that I disagree with you on is the fact that by associating LBBC with 5-hour Energy, you are NOT supporting breast cancer survivors. You are helping promote an unhealthy lifestyle by encouraging women (and men) to consume a product whose ingredients are only chemicals. You compared 5-hour energy with a Starbucks grande which is a very unfair comparison. People drink coffee not just for the caffeine, but for the warmth, smell and comfort of drinking a cup of coffee. And, by the way, coffee is a plant product and NOT a chemical.
Jean, you may want to check out Breast Cancer Action’s website detailing toxicities that surround us and how we need to take a stand against manufacturers so we can put an end to this dreaded disease!
As a final note, my friend and fellow advocate, Nancy Stordahl asks the question “Why has breast cancer become the shopping disease anyway?”