From Kristin Phillips, VP, Account Services, Palio
As October comes to an end, my 37-year-old best friend begins her second round of chemotherapy. The common denominator of these 2 events: breast cancer.
It is hard to miss the “pinking” of October, but what is the point? Breast cancer awareness? Seeing a young vibrant woman diagnosed with breast cancer, I can’t help but be aware. Or is it a case of opportunistic profiteering? I question how pink lipstick, pink Coach bags, or pink buckets of KFC are going to make a difference.
In 1985, when National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) was founded, public opinion and medical practice were very different than they are today: women felt that there was a stigma attached to having breast cancer, and radical mastectomies were a routine part of treatment. At its inception, the aim of NBCAM was to bring breast cancer out of the shadows, promote early detection and less invasive treatments, and give women more control over their treatment decisions. Inspired by AIDS advocates in the early 1990s, the breast cancer advocacy movement adopted political activism, lobbying for increased funding for research into not only the treatment, but the cause and prevention of breast cancer.
Which brings us to the current incarnation of NBCAM: a marketing opportunity. Today the success of NBCAM is nowhere more evident than in the retail industry, where each year more and more products — ranging from electric mixers to golf clubs to lingerie — come in pink or bear pink ribbons. Part of the proceeds from these items purportedly goes to breast cancer charities, which use the money to help fund awareness, mammography, and medical research. While these campaigns might seem altruistic, the marketer’s goals are ultimately to sell products. And, in fact, it works — “pink” is a very effective way to move merchandise during the lull before the holiday shopping season. However, the amount of money generated for breast cancer charities varies greatly from product to product.
So, before you buy pink, consider these critical questions:
- How much money from your purchase actually goes toward breast cancer? Is the amount clearly stated on the package?
- What is the maximum amount that will be donated?
- How are the funds being raised?
- To what breast cancer organization does the money go, and what types of programs does it support?
- What is the company doing to assure that its products are not actually contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?
Or better yet, just make a tax-free donation to your favorite breast cancer charity.
Palio is a full-spectrum global pharmaceutical and consumer advertising, marketing, and communications agency that excels in brand creation and specializes in brand strategy, product launches, global marketing, and digital and integrated media.