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It’s October, and here come the #Pinkverts!

It’s October, and here come the #Pinkverts!


Call them what you want: “Pinktober” campaigns, “Pinkwashing”… our version is “Pinkverts”. They’re the annual rush of branded campaigns to raise awareness (and sometimes funds) for breast cancer and research into its cure.

It’s not all bad, of course, but over the years we’ve noted certain clichés that the cause could do without. One is the sexualization of the disease, using the serious and sympathetic issue as an excuse for objectifying healthy women’s nude bodies. The example above is actress Liang Jing — one of eight Chinese celebrities who posed nude for an “awareness” photoshoot in TrendsHealth magazine.

Another problematic marketing ploy is the business of selling pinked products to fundraisers, and making a profit while doing it.


Here, I give you the Pink Extendable Magnetic Flashlight!

From the product description:

IMPEL Tronics offers fundraisers across the country new breast cancer awareness products hoping to give “Ta-Tas” a “Win-Win.” If you’re a grass roots organization seeking not only an increase in Breast Cancer Awareness, but an increase in donations, the extendable magnetic flashlight can shed some light.

If you’re looking beyond pens, coffee mugs and t-shirts, this bright 3 LED Extendable Magnetic Flashlight offers a well constructed sturdy aluminum casing with a strong stainless steel clip making it the perfect fundraising product. With powerful magnets at both ends and a telescoping head that reaches from over 6” to just under 22”, this is a very useful product offering everyone a handy tool.

So together, let’s not only “Light the Way” but “Pink the Way” as we all join the fight against breast cancer.

Raising awareness for a cause is a great thing. As is raising money. But as we move into another October, let’s remember that this is really about something very destructive that turns people’s lives upside down. It is not sexy. And it is not a sales angle.

These are just two examples I saw in my feed today. There will be many, many more, some of which we’ll feature under the #Pinkverts tag. If you see any good, bad or ugly examples of breast cancer cause marketing this month, please e-mail us links here.

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more