Pink May Not Be So Rosy

Fri, September 21, 2007


I think about breast cancer a lot. Not because I have it, but because my best friend died from breast cancer a little more than a year ago.

And because of WhyMommy. And mod*mom. And my grandmother. And my editor. And a former colleague. And more.

We all have lists like that when it comes to people who have been touched by the cold finger of breast cancer.

I’m afraid I will get it, too. I don’t have any real reason to worry about it other than the fact that I happen to have breasts.

But I do feel especially drawn to the many campaigns that supposedly raise money for breast cancer awareness and research. Bras. Races. Bracelets. Out of loyalty and memory and the hope that someday, some amazingly smart person (a woman, I hope) will find the cure or discover the cause so we can find the cure.

So I give. I donate. And, yes, I’ve bought the pink pins and silicone bracelets and visors the color of candy cotton.

But it looks like I may need to give more consideration to my purchases.

Think Before You Pink is a campaign by Breast Cancer Action that encourages consumers to really scrutinize all the products of pink that are being marketed to us in the name of protecting second base.

Instead of just assuming that all the “pink” campaigns are really making a difference, Think Before You Pink suggests we do a little investigation into who’s taking our money in the name of breast cancer or how the product or service you’re getting may actually contribute to causing cancer itself.

What chemicals are in the pink-cased lipstick we’re buying? Why do they want us to wash off those yogurt lids and mail them back before a contribution is made? Is a dollar a mile contribution on the test drive of a new car really worthwhile if it’s adding more pollution to the atmosphere? Is the company that’s selling a product to raise money putting a cap on the amount they’re willing to contribute at the end of the day?

My dear friend was always glad when she saw I was sporting the pink bracelet or knew that I had been fitted at Nordstrom for a bra or purchased some other piece of pink, but at the moment I’m feeling a bit sheepish that I didn’t think more about the marketing aspect of all the October campaigns.

But I will now.

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19 Responses to “Pink May Not Be So Rosy”

  1. Sunshine Says:

    Wow, I had no idea that some of these attempts to market charity were not all “rosy”.
    My best friend is a 4-year breast cancer survivor, so I walk with her for Relay for Life and feel good about raising funds for that. I haven’t really delved much into getting other pink products I guess.
    Your information is very helpful, excellent post.

  2. impromptublogger Says:

    I have always been careful who I give to. You can’t go wrong with ACS or Susan Komen Foundation to donate. Other charities may be more suspect.

    My best friend also died of breast cancer almost 2 years ago and while I have other charities that I am more vested in I care about that too.

  3. Lawyer Mama Says:

    Egads! I’ve never really thought about it either, PM. I certainly will now.

  4. Julie Pippert Says:

    Interesting point. After reading this it seems like a big of course, but I never thought of it. I just trusted and believed. Thanks!

    Using My Words

  5. Becky Says:

    Good for you. A little skepticism goes a long way. According to Advertising Age (Oct. 3, 2006), Campbell Soup Co. doubled its October sales (from 3.5 million cans to 7 million cans) by putting pink labels on them, promoting breast-cancer awareness. It’s called “cause marketing.” While CSC gave the Susan Komen Foundation 3.5 cents per can, it earned a whole lot more for itself.

    Whatever the cause, I’m wary when someone tells me, “Buy my CD, and I’ll donate a penny to such-and-such a cause” (while keeping your $24.98 for myself). I’d much rather support a cause I care about directly.

    If you’re interested, Barbara Ehrenreich (who’s had breast cancer) has lots of interesting things to say about the pinkification of breast cancer.

  6. Oh, The Joys Says:

    As will I. Thanks!

  7. Damselfly Says:

    I wonder about this too. Thanks for the link.

  8. jen Says:

    thank you. the fact that everything turns into a market campaign makes me want to be sick.

  9. Alex Elliot Says:

    Thanks for the info! Suzanne from Cuss and Other Rants wrote an amazing article on this for the Panelist a while back. The link is on her blog.

    While the motives are questionable and I definitely now do think more about what I’m purchasing, there’s a lot to be said for the visible support like you friend being pleased that you’re wearing pink.

  10. SusieJ Says:

    I’m always skeptical when corporations are involved. They do mean well, but so much of our products are wrapped up in toxic materials it is so tough for them to pull themselves away from it.
    Posts like these, and people speaking up I think are our only chance for change.

  11. Selfmademom Says:

    Interesting post- I hadn’t heard of this. On one hand I totally agree with you and this campaign. On the other hand, I think we have to remember that the big corporations at least get the word out and information out to a very large audience who might not otherwise know or hear about things. That’s not to say that I agree with all the chemicals, etc. that they output into us.

  12. painted maypole Says:

    This is a really great post. It will make us all think.

  13. aimee / greeblemonkey Says:

    Great post.

  14. Mauigirl Says:

    Thanks for posting this, PunditMom – I hadn’t thought about whether all these “pink” campaigns were legit.

  15. Mom101 Says:

    We mentioned them last October on Cool Mom Picks – totally great site. I’m so glad you found it and you’re spreading the word.

  16. BOSSY Says:

    Sorry about your friend… Bossy has had her share as well…

  17. modmom Says:

    are the arimidex + breast cancer awareness links pay per post?

  18. modmom Says:

    i mean are the links paid for?

    because that’s more pink marketing that benefits you + your audience that are interested in this topic + i think that’s okay, but some might think exploitation

  19. PunditMom Says:

    mom*mom, I’m not sure about that, but that’s a good question.

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