Lance Armstrong – A Master of Viral Marketing?

It seems that everyone is copying those "Live Strong" bracelets for their cause.

Started by Tour de France legend and testicular-cancer survivor Armstrong to benefit his research and advocacy foundation, the awareness bracelet as a fund-raising tool has since been copied across the nation by scores of churches, schools, charities, and sports organizations — with a color for every cause.

Area young people consider them a must-have fashion accessory, status symbol and badge of identity.

How many colors are there? And what are they all for?

More than 26 million of the $1 yellow Armstrong bands have been sold, becoming wildly popular after Bruce Willis, Matt Damon, Ben Stiller, Jay Leno, John Kerry and other notables started wearing them.

It turned out to be one of the savviest marketing gimmicks since the Pet Rock, one that other charities are busy emulating, selling their bracelets from $1 to $5 each.

Pink "Sharing the Promise" wristbands support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

The "Give It Up" snap-wristband sold at American Eagle Outfitters benefits three charities — Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Canada, YMCA National Safe Place and JumpStart, an early childhood education system.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is promoting its anti-smoking cause with a blue band bearing the figure 1,200, the number of people who die daily from using tobacco.

The University of Kentucky Wildcats have the "Live Blue" bracelet, which sells for $3. Proceeds from the sale partially benefit the Tubby Smith Foundation, which has given $1.5 million in grants to more than 60 nonprofit groups in Kentucky.

Purchase the green "Support Our Troops" for $2 from and help the Fallen Heroes Fund, which benefits families of American military personnel killed in battle.

For-profit entities also see a chance to make a buck — Nike and Adidas have bands bearing their logos — and several Web sites hawking marketing and promotions items, such as and, advertise wristbands engraved with "Your Message Here," selling them in lots of up to 2,500 to churches, schools or fraternity groups for fund raising.

"Great for those New Year's resolutions," reads a ad for rubber bracelets with motivational slogans such as "I Quit," "Think Thin" and "Cut Carbs" — and for pet lovers there's one engraved with paw prints.

The unintended consequences of an idea can be utterly amazing sometimes.

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