Monday, October 19, 2009

The Commercialization of the Pink Ribbon

Everyone's seeing pink these days: pink soup cans, pink yogurt containers, even NFL players donning pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The cause of finding a cure and promoting breast cancer prevention is a worthy one, since so many lives have been and are affected by the disease.

However, the motives of companies promoting the pink ribbon have come into question: sure, a portion of a pink product's profits might be donated to organizations fighting breast cancer, but why do companies "go pink?" Is it purely for charitable reasons? Or does the company have profits in mind as well?

Before I started reading articles such as this eye-opening one from Newsweek called "Seeing Red in Pink Products," by Joan Raymond, I didn't think much about the commercialization of breast cancer awareness. I didn't even explore my own motives in trying to promote prevention awareness.

You see, as part of this blog, I posted an entry on Oct. 1st, about Breast Cancer Awareness month and what women can do to prevent the disease. I also stuck a pink ribbon on the G is 4 Girl Twitter avatar. This blog and our Twitter account are both tied-in to my company, G is 4 Girl. So why am I doing this? Why is G is 4 Girl mentioning Breast Cancer Awareness? I thought it was just something nice to do. I have an aunt who died from the disease two years ago. I'd like to see all cancers eradicated. But by associating G is 4 Girl with a pink ribbon, was I trying to elevate the status of our company by promoting this cause?

I'm not sure. Maybe subliminally, I was. Then again, we are a small biz run out of my house, not Yoplait or Ford. I just wrote a blog about breast cancer prevention because I really do care about my readers and wanted to give them some tips on prevention.

But what about the big corporations? If a portion of the proceeds go to a charitable organization, exactly how much and what about the rest? Has breast cancer awareness become a really great marketing tool? Are we consumers being guilted into buying something that comes in a pink box over a non-pink box? Are companies using the pink ribbons purely to raise their public profiles and the philanthropic aspects are simply an added bonus? Then again, is any harm being done? If a few cents per purchase goes to a charity, it's still two cents that might not have gone to the charity if there hadn't been a promotion.

There's a non-profit organization, Think Before You Pink, that takes the pink-promoting companies to task. If they find a product that's promoting cancer awareness while also being a product that contains carcinogens (such as alcoholic beverages), then they go after them. It's an interesting site to explore and will raise your awareness about those companies who say their trying to raise your awareness about a cause. They also have a great page on the history of the pink ribbon, started by one woman as a grassroots campaign to raise prevention awareness.

'Til next time,

1 comment:

  1. A candid take on this reapidly-growing marketing capaign. Thanks for flipping the coin.