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."


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.

All the news that’s fit to eat

  • A day late and a fad short: In an effort to capitalize on the dying-if-not-dead low-carb diet fad, President's Choice has brought out Crispy Lettuce Wraps. "Crisp and sweet-tasting but flexible enough for folding, this versatile cross between romaine and iceberg lettuce is the perfect holder for all your favourite sandwich fillings. Great for hot & cold foods, tacos, Asian lettuce wraps and salads." Tip of the hat to Strange New Products for this one.
  • I know it's for a good cause but …PINK BAGELS? "Celebrate Mother's Day With Einstein Bros. Pink Bagels." During the Mother's Day weekend, Einstein Bros. Bagels is going to sell pink bagels for each one sold they will donate $.10 to the the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Isn't it bad enough that most Americans now think bagels have the consistency of Wonder Bread®, but do we have to make them pink? They're trying to do good but is it OK if I go in, order my regular bagels and then pretend they're pink? I'll even cough up an extra dime per for the company to donate. [Fittingly colorful quote from the press release: Einstein Bros., one of the brands under the New World Restaurant Group, Inc. (Pink Sheets: NWRG) Pink sheet companies are ones that issue and trade stocks without needing to meet minimum requirements or file with the SEC. They got their name because they were actually printed on pink paper, not because they donate ten cents to charity or because they have the consistency of a bagel made at one of these chain bagel shops.]
  • Just because you've taken a survey doesn't mean you should keep it: "According to a nationwide survey released today by Whole Foods Market , Americans eat meat an average of 4.2 times a week — that's 218 times a year. Flavor, safety and humane treatment of animals are the top drivers for choosing high-quality meat and poultry." Ummmm … what exactly does your first point have to do with your second point? Other survey highlights:
    • 65 percent of Americans want a guarantee that all meat and poultry products are free from added growth hormones and antibiotics, and that the animals were humanely raised.
    • 61 percent felt it important that meat and poultry products' compliance to these standards should be labeled.
    • 51 percent said having set standards for meat products is a key factor in deciding where to shop for meat.
    • However, when asked if they'd ever purchased products meeting such standards, 51 percent said they were "not sure."

The first two points basically are like asking if you're in favor of mom and/or apple pie. The final point is the rub. Yeah yeah yeah we all think we should exercise more & eat better but actually do it? Hmmmm. How much a pound? (To understand the short-sightedness of consumer's calculation around the cost of meat — or the cynicism of those selling it — I suggest reading Michael Pollan's new book The Omnivore's Dilemma. It's wonderfully written, but a bit too long. If Fast Food Nation didn't already convince you that corn is a blight upon the nation, this will. Ban "High fructose corn syrup," that's my new cause.