Breast Cancer Action Demands Pink Ribbon Marketers Stop the Distraction

For immediate release
October 1st, 2014
Contact:  Angela Wall, Communications Director (415) 243-9301 x16 awall@bcaction.org

thinkbeforeyoupinklogoSAN FRANCISCO, CA–Breast Cancer Action (BCAction), the national watchdog for the breast cancer movement, today launched a sweeping critique of pink ribbon culture and marketing by outlining the specific ways pink ribbon culture fails women. They are demanding pink ribbon marketers Stop the Distraction and are focusing on six prominent corporate targets.

The October 2014 campaign, which is a continuation of BCAction’s hallmark award-winning Think Before You Pink® campaign, is a six-point take-down of pink ribbon cause marketing and the broader culture of “pink” which expands BCAction’s long-standing commitment to addressing exploitation, corporate profiteering and hypocrisy in breast cancer fundraising.

In a damning critique of pink ribbon product and promotions, Breast Cancer Action executive director Karuna Jaggar said “The annual flood of products and the widespread culture of “pink” have hijacked the breast cancer movement. Pink ribbon culture serves to sanitize this devastating disease—in order for pink ribbon products to be profitable, marketers must make breast cancer palatable.”

Stop the Distraction identifies six problems of pink ribbon culture and marketing and identifies six organizations whose outrageous campaigns exemplify everything that’s wrong with pink ribbon culture:

  • The National Football League (NFL) is spreading misinformation about breast cancer by repeating disproven and misleading advice about mammography screening in their “Crucial Catch” campaign.
  • Alhambra Water is pinkwashing by selling plastic polycarbonate water bottles which contain BPA, a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to breast cancer.
  • Kohls’ recent “Pink Elephant in the Room” promotion was outrageous profiteering; it exploited concern for women affected by breast cancer to make millions for the company.
  • NASCAR is selling breast cancer awareness t-shirts that say “Check Your Headlights” which degrade women by objectifying and sexualizing women’s breasts and bodies.
  • Hooters’ breast cancer campaigns obscure the harsh reality of breast cancer by perpetuating a story of triumphant survivorship based on positive thinking, beauty tips, and sanitized, carefully chosen images of women.
  • Oriental Trading is spreading empty awareness via its endless supply of plastic pink ribbon trinkets–the company pockets all the money from these sales.

“Pink ribbon culture has failed to address and end the breast cancer epidemic and achieve health justice for all women despite more than 20 years of pink ribbon marketing and awareness campaigns,” stated Jaggar.

Despite all the awareness and all the money raised, breast cancer remains an urgent public health crisis and a critical social justice issue. Each October, pink ribbon marketers appeal to people’s sincere concern about breast cancer. Companies sell products, make profits, and seek customer goodwill by claiming to care about breast cancer. Many of these promotions ultimately benefit corporations far more than they help women living with and at risk of breast cancer.

While corporations have made billions off the disease, progress in breast cancer treatment, prevention, survival, and inequities has not been forthcoming. Three million women in the U.S. are living with breast cancer. Up to one-third of all breast cancers will metastasize, even when found in the early stages. Black women are still 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. And each year, 40,000 women die of breast cancer.

Jaggar stated: “Pink ribbon culture has created a story of triumphant survivorship based on positive thinking, beauty tips, and sanitized, carefully chosen images of women living with the disease. Breast cancer is not pretty and pink, and many women who “fight hard,” “fight like a girl,” and try to “beat breast cancer” still develop metastatic cancer and die from the disease. The soft, comforting face of breast cancer that pink ribbons create cover up the devastating, harsh reality that so many women and their loved ones are dealing with.”

Breast Cancer Action encourages people across the country to hold accountable corporations that claim to care about breast cancer through their “Stop the Distraction” campaign at www.bcaction.org/stopthedistraction.

###

Breast Cancer Action (www.bcaction.org) is a national non-profit education and activist organization avoids conflict of interest by refusing funding from the “cancer industry,” including pharmaceutical and chemical companies in order to retain an independent voice and offer truly unbiased information about breast cancer.  BCAction’s mission is to achieve health justice for all women at risk of and living with breast cancer.

This entry was posted in BCA News, Press Releases.