When I was diagnosed 21 years ago with breast cancer the activist within me was ignited. I was shocked that my world was not more aware of this insidious disease that in 1989 1 in 9 was the rate of this disease.
I worked tirelessly with all types of organizations, several in the San Francisco Bay Area as that seemed to be the place where the most noise about the disease was being made. Pat Anstett of the Detroit Free Press introduced me to Elenor Pred, founder of Breast Cancer Action, one of the first activist groups in the country.
My plastic surgeon and I developed hangtags that described how to do breast self-exam (BSE). We contacted bra manufacturers and were told by all that they did not want to alarm women that they might get breast cancer.
Then came the Pink Ribbon and then Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Astra Zeneca the manufacturer of Tamoxifen an estrogen-blocking drug that is routinely prescribed for women post-treatment started Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Astra Zeneca is also the largest producer of PCB’s and Agent Orange.
It is now October and I am surrounded by a sea of pink. There are pink shoes for the football teams, pink pens, purses and even pink rubber duckies. It goes on and on.
I’m certainly happy that the awareness has increased but I question the motives of the “cause marketing.” There should be more transparency and more accountability by the companies that are running their campaigns for breast cancer. Where is the money going? Are they gaining more profits by the sympathetic well-meaning public’s purchase of their products? Consumers need to be encouraged to ask critical questions about pink ribbon promotions
Some interesting postings on Wikipedia:
Business marketing campaigns, particularly sales promotions for products that increase pollution, have been condemned as pinkwashing (a portmanteau of pink ribbon and whitewash). Such promotions generally result in a token donation to a breast cancer-related charity, while exploiting the consumers’ fear of cancer and grief for people who have died to drive sales.
San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Action has renamed the annual awareness campaign “Breast Cancer Industry Month” to emphasize the costs of treatment. Their “Think Before You Pink” campaign urges people to “do something besides shop.” After explaining that some “pink” sponsors are polluting industrial giants or spend more money on breast cancer-themed advertisements than they actually donate towards research or treatment, BCA asks consumers to reflect thoughtfully on questions like, “How much money was spent marketing the product?” or “What is the company doing to assure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?” This group has particularly excoriated major cosmetic companies such as Avon, Revlon, and Estée Lauder, which have claimed to promote women’s health while simultaneously using known and/or suspected cancer-causing chemicals, such as parabens and phthalates in their products.
I just want to urge people to be cautious and to be looking at and supporting the prevention of this disease whose rates are now 1 in 8.
About Eiler Communications &Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Biotech &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Healthcare &Marketing Communications &Michigan Positive &Michigan Public Relations Firm &PR Firm for Economic Development &Public Relations Tools &Sustainable Transportation &Technology PR Insights 24 Sep 2008 03:57 pm
When I first started with Eiler communications as a Senior Account Manager I had most of my marketing/pr experience in high-end real estate, sales and restaurants. Since my tenure with the company I have been exposed to clients such as; VPSI, Inc, Genetics Squared, NSF International, Google, Silver Anti-Bac, Linux Box and many more in various fields. It has been an incredible experience for me to learn about so many diverse corporations and how they are contributing to the health and well being of our country.
For instance, Genetics Squared is in the process of developing a test that can help doctors determine how to treat certain types of cancers. By using personalized medicine we can possibly save the health care economy over 200,000 million dollars by being able to target the right procedures and treatments for different cancers. Imagine that?
VPSI, Inc is another client of ours that is helping all of us reduce our carbon footprint by providing alternate forms of sustainable transportation in the form of Vanpooling. To find out more about Vanpooling and VPSI go to http://www.pooling-resources.com, which is a blog that Eiler writes and maintains on behalf of VPSI, Inc.
NSF International helps protect all of us from the recent food scare(s) we have been trying to overcome the past six months. Recently, NSF provided a $1 million grant to a Virginia Tech professor of weed science to study the pathogen that causes bacterial speck disease of tomatoes. NSF is another example of a Michigan-based international business that is in the center of international issues. NSF International is an independent, not-for-profit organization.
Not only are the companies that we represent making a difference in the health and
well being of our nation, but I feel as if I can help make a difference by using the resources of a PR agency to spread the word. By using the correct forms of a market positioning strategy, we have found that we are able to get great marketing and public relations results for our clients and I am proud of that!