Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Matt Purdue.
There’s been a fascinating public relations battle waging this month, one that bears watching by all PR professionals.
As we all know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For three weeks now, we’ve been swimming in a sea of pink, let loose by breast cancer advocates all over the country to remind us that this disease still affects far too many women and their families. NFL players have donned pink cleats. APG is marketing a pink Snuggie sleeved blanket. KFC is selling pink buckets of chicken.
But there’s another side to this pink PR crusade that has been quickly creeping up on the national agenda. Let’s call it a darker shade of pink. On blogs and social media networking sites, people are starting to question the appropriateness of this plethora of pink. Megan Casserly on Forbes.com called it, simply, “crap.” One blogger on the Washington Times site called it “sickening.” Another green blogger questioned the true intentions of companies that make pink products for the cure while simultaneously fostering environmental and human rights abuses.
The anti-pink tide is rising.
So how is the other side reacting? Susan G. Komen for the Cure (SGK), the 800-pound pink gorilla of breast cancer foundations, has gone on the offensive. SGK founder Nancy Brinker is taking on the critics. She recently blogged that there “still isn’t enough pink.” It’s an interesting PR tactic. Brinker acknowledges the messages from the detractors, but quickly discounts them. She tugs at our heartstrings, reminding us that we need more and more pink because a woman dies from breast cancer every 69 seconds.
But does this really explain why SGK lists nearly 200 for-profit “partners” on its website, from Microsoft and Deluxe Checks to Otis Spunkmeyer and Payless ShoeSource? How many pink products does it take to cure breast cancer?
Clearly, it’s not as simple as selling pink products to fund a cure. Breast cancer death rates have slowly decreased over the years, but, strangely, the number of women getting mammograms has also decreased, despite all the pink products. How effective all this awareness really is should be deliberated every October.
How this public relations battle will shake out is anyone’s guess. But one thing is for certain: when it comes to women’s health, healthy debate is a good thing.