Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Too Far?

Posted by on Oct 23, 2015 in ComLead, Integrated Marketing Communication, Managing Not-For-Profit Organizations

In honor of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month I think it is only fitting to do a piece on the current and probably ongoing debate revolved around “Pinktober.”  But first let me run through some statistics.

  • 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime.
  • About 40,290 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2015 from breast cancerpink ribbon
  • For women in the U.S. breast cancer death rates are higher than those of any other cancer besides lung cancer.
  • In 2015, more than 2.87 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S.

As we can see Breast Cancer is a very serious disease that affects millions.  For years now we have known that once we enter October our stores will be filled with Halloween decorations and massive amounts of Pink.  But is it too much? Has the campaign to raise awareness for women with Breast Cancer gone too far?

There is a very large population of people, many of whom are breast cancer survivors, who feel that the marketing has gone too far.  It is impossible to walk into a store and not see something Pink for Breast Cancer around every corner.  Everything from yeast infection medicine to a deck of cards is endorsed now.  At this point the “pinkwashing” has become so expansive that the message is getting lost and the sincerity of the campaign is decreasing.  One could even say that “pinkwashing” has become more about the money than the cause.  Some companies don’t even donate any of their proceeds to the cause rather they say they are trying to simply “raise awareness.”

Tip for shoppers: If you’re purchasing a pink ribbon endorsed product look and see if they indicate where that money is going.

It is more than just the overwhelming Pink products that are upsetting people this month.  “No Bra day” encourages women to go braless and post a picture with the hashtag #NoBraDay and people took to twitter to unleash their concerns.  This behavior is not saving lives or helping the cause, it is sexualizing a very serious disease, and it is a reminder to those survivors who have lost their breasts of what they do not have.

In the end, it is nice to see some Pink to remind us that Breast Cancer is still a prominent issue in our world today.  However, I agree that it has gotten out of control.  Items that have absolutely no connection to the disease or do not specifically indicate that proceeds are going to research should not be donning the pink hue.  Also, No Bra Day in support of breast cancer is the most absurd thing I have ever heard and shows no way of supporting the cause.  If you really want to help, find an organization that specifically states that they work on research for breast cancer and donate directly.


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