Pinked Out? The Other Side of the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign

In recognition of International Breast Cancer Awareness Month people all over the US are sporting the event's signature color: pink. The fundraisers, activities, conferences and gatherings all share a common pink hue streaking through the area and the audience.

While this awareness is certainly a good thing, some are beginning to express dislike for what the color pink is coming to co-represent. The color overload is a result of a gargantuan marketing strategy, as yet unprecedented. The size of the campaign becomes clear when one notices that even NFL linemen are wearing pink.

The wide and rapid uptake of the symbolic color is understandable when one considers that about 40,000 people die annually from breast cancer, the majority being women. The marketing campaign has created a large body of support and a strong community of women who have been impacted by the disease. The large sums of money that the campaigns have raised are no doubt being directed towards research into diagnosing and treating the disease, as well as towards support services for those affected.

The downside to all this is that corporations are also benefiting from all the pink. The color and cause have been co-opted as marketing strategies for products such as Mike's Hard Lemonade, Honda cars and Coach luxury products. Although a percentage of revenues do go towards cancer research, the proportion that corporations retain is far too big.

Issues like these raise the question of whether the US is reaching pink saturation, and whether awareness is really leading to increased prevention.