A pictorial guide to why I’m over “Breast Cancer Awareness” marketing

 

A pink oil delivery truck? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? I was driving around Boston the other day and I saw one. Then I Googled it to get a picture and found out it was one of TWO local oil companies doing this. Then my friend Karen sent me a link to the pink recycling can. So I thought I’d put together a pictorial guide to some of the odder pink breast cancer items I could find. VOILA!

Ask yourself a question: Do you know anyone who isn’t aware of breast cancer?

pinktruckoil truck

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From my original post on the topic:

Back in the day – in this case the early ‘90s – I had many friends with HIV and/or AIDS. One of whom, a true gentleman named John Kelley, wore on his jacket a Star Trek badge (right) and a red ribbon which many people were wearing then to show they knew AIDS existed. When asked about this heraldry he would respond, “Because Star Fleet cares about AIDS.” (RIP, dear John.) Which is pretty much where I’m at with all the pink that washes over marketing each October.

Let me make one thing very clear: Like everyone else, I know many people who have had breast (and other types of) cancer. One of those is Mother CollateralDamage. So it will not surprise you to learn that I, like everyone else, don’t like cancer. Now plenty of companies have done a lot to help fund research into preventing breast cancer and to them I say, “You may stop reading now.” The other day the family was driving by the HQ of New Balance sneakers and we noticed a large pink ribbon affixed to the building. Mrs. CollateralDamage: “They’ve earned it.”

But the problem is that many companies are now just slapping pink on the product or advertising and claiming they support “Breast Cancer Awareness.” As a commenter on a wonderful NYT column about Pink Ribbon Fatigue put it, “Buying stuff with pink ribbons will send some money to research and/or outreach, but it hard to tell how much that Yoplait helps. Posting ‘awareness’ status updates on facebook does absolutely nothing – I have yet to meet a person that wasn’t aware of breast cancer’s existence."

Why I’m over “Breast Cancer Awareness” marketing

tng-badge10 Back in the day – in this case the early ‘90s – I had many friends with HIV and/or AIDS. One of whom, a true gentleman named John Kelley, wore on his jacket a Star Trek badge (right) and a red ribbon which many people were wearing then to show they knew AIDS existed. When asked about this heraldry he would respond, “Because Star Fleet cares about AIDS.” (RIP, dear John.) Which is pretty much where I’m at with all the pink that washes over marketing each October.

Let me make one thing very clear: Like everyone else, I know many people who have had breast (and other types of) cancer. One of those is Mother CollateralDamage. So it will not surprise you to learn that I, like everyone else, don’t like cancer. Now plenty of companies have done a lot to help fund research into preventing breast cancer and to them I say, “You may stop reading now.” The other day the family was driving by the HQ of New Balance sneakers and we noticed a large pink ribbon affixed to the building. Mrs. CollateralDamage: “They’ve earned it.”

But the problem is that many companies are now just slapping pink on the product or advertising and claiming they support “Breast Cancer Awareness.” As a commenter on a wonderful NYT column about Pink Ribbon Fatigue put it, “Buying stuff with pink ribbons will send some money to research and/or outreach, but it hard to tell how much that yoplait helps. Posting ‘awareness’ status updates on facebook does absolutely nothing – I have yet to meet a person that wasn’t aware of breast cancer’s existence."

pink-your-drink1-250x255 My current favorite bizarro pink item is the Chambord special breast cancer edition liquor bottles. They were brought to my attention via this wonderful blog post at Change.Org by Brie Cadman entitled “Pink Ribbon Hypocrisy: Boozing It Up For Breast Cancer.” Ms. Cadman is understandably irate over companies that contribute to the causes of breast cancer then trying to earn good will via the Big Pink:

The biggest offenders are fast food and alcohol companies. According to the National Cancer Institute, both obesity and alcohol are associated with an increased breast cancer risk. Yet that hasn’t stopped these companies from claiming their goods help support or even prevent the disease. First off is KFC, the company that seems to know no bounds when it comes to using women to sell their products. The last time we checked in with the fried-chicken-slinging folks, they were using college women’s bums to promote their own buns. But they’re also capitalizing on breast cancer by selling pink buckets and donating $0.50 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

While I don’t agree with all Ms. Cadman’s arguments, I think they are part of a much needed dash of reality. Consumers need to be a lot more diligent about what a company means when it says it is “supporting” a charity.

Some parts of this all this pinkosity I enjoy: Like the sight of professional baseball players having to make the Freudian subtext obvious by playing with pink bats. I just wonder how much good this actually does. I would be more impressed if more emphasis was put on helping an actual person cope with cancer treatment. Bring them a meal, if they want one. Hang out after the chemo when they have no energy and feel like crap and don’t want to be alone and are afraid they’re of being a burden to family and friends. Take them to a movie. Be available for middle of the night phone calls. Run errands, etc., etc., etc. Let’s move “cancer awareness” from the generic, wholesale level to a more personal, retail experience. It’s easy to support “people” with cancer, it is much harder to support an actual person.

And remember, Star Fleet cares about people with breast cancer.

Or, to quote DeathStarPR: “Earth, we can help you #beatcancer. Side effects may include loss of: sunsets, life on Earth, Earth itself. Because we care.#deathstarcares

Pledge to support Mrs. CollateralDamage in race to raise funds against cancer

The incredible & indomintable Mrs. CD is running Sunday in the Susan G. Komen 5K Race for the Cure. Please go here to support it and her if you would. I know ours is not the only family that cancer has taken a huge toll on.

You may be a redneck if you … use my product

Or is Jeff Foxworthy a better tasting, more tender jerk?

Actual quote from a press release:

Recognizing the growing, nontraditional segment of the jerky market, Monogram is launching a line of products under the Jeff Foxworthy label in 2006. Jerky is the top meat snack and it has more than doubled its market size since 1997, according to Mintel International Group of Chicago.

Fueling sales growth, the low-carb dieting trend has thrusted meat snacks into the media spotlight. (Love their choice of verbs — CD) Jerky now appeals to a wider demographic, including women, children, and health-conscious consumers. Further, this market has not yet exhausted its growth opportunities as evidenced by data from the Fall 2004 Simmons National Consumer Survey, which found that just 39% of households buy meat snacks.

Jeff Foxworthy is the ideal celebrity brand to market Monogram’s jerky products because he has universal appeal and his image is closely associated with the consumer’s expectations of the product. Test marketing already shows that Jeff Foxworthy Jerky products are a hit!

Consumers reported Jeff Foxworthy beef jerky was more tender than other brands in the taste test and had the best flavor, more beef flavor, and better spices.

Apparently April is when a young man’s thoughts turn to smoked meat products as the e-waves are currently flooded with irony-impaired jerky-related press releases

Salt Lake City, UT (PRWEB) April 2, 2006 — When Jerky Direct set forth in the Network Marketing Industry they decided they wanted to remove the middle man and make the all Natural Jerky available to the masses and still allow those the Opportunity to build a business from their home. Most of Jerky Directs products contain no preservatives, no added msg, no nitrites, no erythorbate, no artificial ingredients, and are only minimally processed. Love the use of the phrase “most of.”

And in a case of really bad timing … from the AP today:

A compound formed when meat is charred at high temperatures — as in barbecue — encourages the growth of prostate cancer in rats, researchers reported on Sunday. Their study, presented at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, may help explain the link between eating meat and a higher risk of prostate cancer. It also fits in with other studies suggesting that cooking meat until it chars might cause cancer.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em…