Corporatism in the pink ribbon

Pinkwasher: (pink’-wah-sher) noun. A company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Go to many major retailers, and you’ll find a pink product… somewhere. These products will basically market off the color pink. “Buy me, and $.05 will go to breast cancer research!” It seems like a good cause– and generally, it is. However, companies are cashing in on the pink ribbon campaign in ways we can’t even imagine.
To be blunt, the color pink has become a marketing tool for many major corporations. The pink ribbon campaign is arguably one of the most successful branding campaigns of the last 100 years. To corporations, it seems irresponsible not to cash in on such a successful campaign.Recently, however, the Breast Cancer Action association has started a campaign of itself. The campaign is called ‘Think Before you Pink.’ Their ultimate goal is for people to critically ask themselves when they buy a pink product where the money is going, how much of it is going there, and if there is a cap on how much the company will donate.Not only do they ask people to look critically at the donation, but they also want people to examine the product.

Does the product have known carcinogens? Is this company knowingly producing products that only add to the cancer pandemic? Cosmetic and car companies often sell pink ribbon products, but at the same time, sell cancer producing products. This practice is wrong and hypocritical. It is referred to as pinkwashing, a term coined by the Breast Cancer Action Association.

As a consumer, you have to question what you’re being sold. You have to look critically at what a corporation does to get you to buy their product. No doubt, products that donate to any type of cancer research are good. However, the corporations that are using it as a marketing scheme seem to be becoming more and more prevalent. Companies do realize that by identifying themselves as a company that fights breast cancer, they will improve their public perception, and therefore, sport more profits.So, what can you do? First, be smart. Understand that not all corporations are good, and not all corporations are bad– you just have the task of distinguishing between the two. Remember to critically ask yourself questions when buying a pink product. And, don’t be afraid to speak up. If you’ve done your research, and know that a company is pinkwashing, tell people. The fight against breast cancer has been, and will continue to be, long and hard. But, it could be made easier if we were all able to identify the pinkwashers.Please, ‘Think before you Pink.’