By and  on October 21, 2011

NEW YORK — “Evelyn told me to give everyone a kiss,” Leonard Lauder told the assembled guests at Bloomingdale’s Ready, Set, Pink! private dinner at Le Cirque Thursday evening. Hosted by Michael Gould, the event honored Evelyn Lauder and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

But while the guest of honor was under the weather, she was there in spirit, especially as Gould extolled Evelyn Lauder’s dedication to the BCRF. “We’re involved in many causes, but the BCRF is very special to us,” said Gould. “This dinner is a way to say thank you for giving us the opportunity to give back.”

Leonard Lauder called Gould “a soul mate” of his wife. “He is a great friend and a great supporter of both the Estée Lauder Cos. and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation,” he added.

Earlier last week, Evelyn Lauder spoke to WWD about the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, which has gone deeper into digital country in an effort to extend the reach of its message. The BCRF and BCA are two separate organizations, but Evelyn Lauder heads them both, and the Lauder company is the largest corporate donor for both. Lauder proudly noted that despite the recession, the BCRF raised $40 million in the last fiscal year ended June 30, almost $4 million more than last year.

The BCA campaign has launched its first global Web site, bcacampaign.com, as a hub for news, information, special events and tips on breast health and healthy living. Evelyn Lauder said that one of the goals this year is to raise the bar in “including more people, more young people,” noting there have been patients as young as 11.

The Web site is a springboard for a social media program entitled Shine a Light on Breast Cancer. The gathering point is Facebook, but the program also is geared with components from Twitter, Foursquare and YouTube. Prior to the launch of the site on Oct. 3, Lauder, who is also a senior corporate vice president at the Estée Lauder Cos., predicted, “You’re going to reach millions of people this way.”

And in the first two weeks, the response seems to bear her out. “We’ve had thousands of visitors, from 164 countries,” said Marisa Thalberg, vice president of global digital marketing at Lauder. The Shine a Light program on Facebook allows people to post messages of love and encouragement; corresponding spots on a global map turn pink with each posting. The top five countries logging Twitter entries are Brazil, the U.S., the U.K., Indonesia and the Philippines.

Another feature of Shine a Light is another global map that tracks the progress of the landmark illumination program as Evelyn Lauder and spokesperson Elizabeth Hurley move around the world flipping switches and bathing famous buildings in pink light. The program is in its 12th year, and it has been expanded with the addition of Phillips, the consumer electronics company, as a partner, which provided the low-wattage energy-efficient LED lighting for many of the buildings and added more monuments to the list. Hurley took more of a lead this year, overseeing illuminations at Selfridges in London, Jenners in Edinburgh, Tsum in Moscow, as well as making star-turn appearances at Bloomingdale’s and at Gould’s dinner Thursday night. The store has been a major player in raising funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which bankrolls the work of 186 researchers. One of its prime cash generators is a special Pink Ribbon catalogue featuring merchandise from different manufacturers, of which a portion of the proceeds are donated to the BCRF. Bloomingdale’s raised more than $1 million with the catalogue, Lauder said, adding that this year Melissa Etheridge is selling her guitar.

Almost every Lauder brand merchandises special product offerings for the BCRF. The awareness campaign was jolted with a call to action with a print ad photographed by Michael Thompson, showing profiles of four nude models, and conceived by James Gager, senior vice president and group creative director of MAC Cosmetics, La Mer and Jo Malone Worldwide, plus Antonia Lakis, vice president of MAC Design. Another step forward was taken this year when the organization broadened its gender focus. A blue Swarovski stone has been integrated into the decorative pink ribbon and a similar stone has been integrated into the compact packaging as a reminder that breast cancer does not afflict women alone; 1 percent of those diagnosed are men.

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