US (MI): Spring Meadow raises $1 million for cancer cure

This year, the Invincibelle Spirit Campaign hit a significant milestone in its drive to raise money for breast cancer research — a milestone reached through the collective efforts of garden centers across the U.S. — and they're not done yet.

Since 2009, Spring Meadow Nursery, a Proven Winners member headquartered in Grand Haven, MI, has donated $1 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) for every Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea marketed under the ColorChoice brand and sold in garden centers. 2018 has been a big year for the campaign, which surpassed its original $1 million donation goal in less than ten years. The team at Spring Meadow is reinvigorating its campaign for the next million with a versatile marketing campaign that garden centers can easily use to attract customers while raising money for an important cause.

The inspiring pink hydrangea
“This campaign can be traced back to the introduction of the first pink Hydrangea arborescens, which was developed by Dr. Tom Ranney at North Carolina State University,” explains Natalie Carmolli, Marketing and PR Specialist at Spring Meadow. “It was named the Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea because of its beautiful pink blooms and, like those who are batting breast cancer, its ability to thrive in adverse conditions.”

Spring Meadow Nursery’s Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea is the inspiration for the program, which donates $1 for every plant sold to the Breast Cancer Research Fund.

Invincibelle Spirit II in a 3-gallon container

When Spring Meadow decided to begin the campaign, the team looked for an appropriate organization to support and decided upon the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, she said. BCRF was chosen because it is the highest rated breast cancer organization in the United States and has an A+ rating from Charity Watch and 4 out of 4 stars from Charity Navigator. It allocates $.91 out of every $1.00 raised to research and awareness, and funds research into tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, metastasis and survivorship.  Find out more about BCRF at

The original Invincibelle Spirit Hydrangea arborescens has since been upgraded to the Invincibelle Spirit II hydrangea, and the $1 donation per plant continues to be donated to BCRF.

A pretty audacious goal
“We began the campaign with the release of the Invincibelle Spirit hydrangea in 2009 and we set a goal to raise $1 million for breast cancer research. We knew this was a pretty audacious goal, but we also knew that with the help of growers and garden centers across North America, that goal was very attainable.” notes Carmolli. “We couldn’t have even gotten the campaign off the ground without their help.”

Next, Spring Meadow and Proven Winners encouraged garden centers to hold Pink Day cause marketing events. “We had heard about a Canadian garden center that was already hosting Pink Days to raise money for breast cancer research and we expanded on it, creating marketing tools that independent garden centers across North America could use to host their own pink day events.” She continued, “In the first year alone (2010), 33 garden centers hosted Pink Day events.”

Spring Meadow owner Dale Deppe, and Natalie Carmolli, made the $1 million announcement in Columbus, OH at Cultivate ’18.

The announcement is made
Spring Meadow owner Dale Deppe and Ms. Carmolli made the $1 million announcement in July at the State of the Industry keynote address at Cultivate ’18 in Columbus, OH.

At the Cultivate ’18 keynote address, AmericanHort’s chief economist Charlie Hall encouraged these efforts, saying that marketing that is focused on health and well-being benefits, like this campaign, resonates with consumers and will benefit the industry in the future.

The industry’s response to the $1 million announcement in Columbus “was really enthusiastic,” adds Carmolli. “We had first announced it at a private customer event at the Spring Meadow Nursery headquarters. We asked the people in the room to raise their hands if they know of someone or are someone who has been touched by breast cancer.” Noting that one out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, she remarked that it is all the more apparent how many people are affected when you see the number hands go up upon asking the question.

Proven Winners actively markets the Invincibelle Spirit Campaign at trade shows and throughout the media.

In mid-August the goal was also announced at the Independent Garden Center show in Chicago, which featured a “Pretty Powerful” pillar in the outer lobby. The display gave those who wanted to post memorials or notes of encouragement an opportunity to share messages about who is “pretty powerful” in their lives. Announcements will continue to roll out well into the fall and new year.

Raising the next $1 million
“Now that we have reached the $1 million goal in only 9 years, we are making an effort to reinvigorate the campaign and see where we can take this. We want to continue to support research that not only works toward finding a cure, but also find ways to increase survivorship and quality of life for those who are battling breast cancer,” she says. 

The popular Invincibelle Spirit Campaign continues to be heavily marketed to consumers by Proven Winners. Nationwide print and social media programs, plus radio campaigns in 15 markets across the country are focusing on this worthy program.

“October is breast cancer awareness month, so this fall might be a good time to plan a 2019 Pink Day event at garden centers,” Carmolli says. “Cause marketing events never fail to bring customers through the doors of a business - so it helps the garden center while raising money for a good cause. We look at these events as companion pieces to a successful business.”

New catalog
In other Proven Winners news, Fourstar has released its new catalog for 2019, which you can download here.

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