Another side to breast cancer awareness month: sick of pink


See this Sunday Boston Globe magazine article. Excerpt:

This month, like every October, a sea of pink ribbons washes over products from sneakers to snacks. While the effort raises research dollars, it leaves some breast cancer survivors feeling that companies are profiting from their pain.

I've written about this before, with breast cancer advocacy groups mounting a "think before you pink" campaign - what some call pinkwashing.

Image from the Globe:




I agree that this "pinkwashing" plays a significant role in "the onslaught of commercialism that surrounding October breast cancer awareness campaigns" however, as a marketer that works for a non-profit breast cancer foundation, it's hard to raise awareness without that branded "face". Like any other brand, it can be misused it's supporters.

I would be very interested in hearing any suggestions or seeing any successful examples of how one can go about created a recognizable brand without using pink? The site is a poor example of this on usability appeal alone. That red is just scary business right there. GREAT concept, poor execution. That's just my opinion.

Thank you.

The other downside to pink awareness campaigns - a lot of focus is on "early detection" as the cure to breast cancer. This is a myth and does a disservice to those diagnosed with a later stage cancer or a recurrence. Some breast cancers are just more aggressive and often show up as "interval" cancers, in between screenings. Women with Stage IV breast cancer don't need the added burden of having others think somehow they did something wrong and didn't get there cancers detected early enough! Mammography is best at finding the slow growing, less threatening cancers.

The National Breast Cancer Coalition launched a "peel back the pink" campaign to dispel myths about breast cancer this month. A myth busted each day this month. check it out at

Sounds like commercialism to me...but then again. That's what the US is all's all about the media driven society. I'm not going to wear pink in Oct. Then again, i'm a guy and that wouldn't fly well where I'm from.

I started noticing the overkill of pink a few years ago, it was everywhere, in the magazines w/ the latest celebs sporting pink from head to toe, and don't forget the pink ribbon...a MUST HAVE (and I really mean must have) accessory if you are supporting breast cancer in any way. Why would I want to waste my hard earned money on a bunch of pink "merchandise" when I could instead donate it to a great research institution to hopefully someday stomp out the evil breast cancer ITSELF? It seems to me this is simply a way to make more cash, a money making way to do business...that's sad, considering millions of people are dying.

I think we need to step back and wonder "are companies of breast cancer victims really profiting from breast cancer victims pain?" I think perhaps the answer is a "yes" unfortunately.

Thanks for the photos, great capture of it.


My sister and I were in a popular franchise cafe this morning and were bombarded with the pink all over the place. I almost felt bad for going about my daily routine today because I felt like I should be wearing a pink polo and handing out bagel samples telling people to "think pink." So yes, it really makes you think when you look at everything that was pink in there. All the icings on the bakery items, cups, employee shirts, balloons, napkins, reusable water bottles, pink decorations, and I could go on. When I paid for my items, I asked, "so how much money is your company giving to breast cancer research today?" and I got a blank stare like I am so behind the times. The clerk then asked the manager behind her who was stuffing a bag full of bagels and his response was "all of the proceeds from the pink ribbon bagel will be donated." Great (not freaking bagel dude?)! Except that's not true. The sign right in front of me said "a portion of the proceeds from each sale of the pink ribbon bagel will be donated..." Who gets to decide how big that portion is going to be (I bet the CFO of the bakery that rhymes ranpera was cool with giving a penny)? Why spend all the money on the party and the decorations and the extra staff? What did you say Mr. Businessman? Because it bring customers in? Yeah, that's what I thought you said.
Lastly, I wish we could spread this awareness muscle around for all the other cancer types! C'mon! Ovarian cancer is WAY less likely to be detected than breast, and by the time you catch it it's too late! And don't think it's the "old lady disease" anymore. Do some research and you'll find out much YOUNGER women fall victim. A few years ago I heard of a severe case in an 8 yr old. YUP...8 yrs old!
Forget think pink and just think THINK!

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Gary Schwitzer published on October 2, 2009 4:40 PM.

Another example of questionable local TV ethics regarding health programming was the previous entry in this blog.

Familiar Midwest theme: watered down med school conflict of interest policies is the next entry in this blog.

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