What heart patients can learn from Pinktober pinkwashing

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

October (also known as Pinktober in corporate brand marketing circles) is the annual holy month of breast cancer awareness-raising, a month of feel-good retail branding opportunities, bathed in a pretty cloud of pinkwashing, a campaign once described by author Barbara Ehrenreich (a breast cancer patient herself) as the cult of pink kitsch”.  You’ve seen these marketing campaign ads:

“For every _______ (insert name of the company’s special pink product, e.g. a pink-labeled can of Campbell’s soup or a pink-handled Smith & Wesson handgun) that you purchase this month, we’ll make a donation to help raise breast cancer awareness!”

As the late Barbara Brenner reminded us: If breast cancer could be cured by shopping, it would be cured by now.” Continue reading “What heart patients can learn from Pinktober pinkwashing”

A heart film to watch before the “Pink Season” gets here

We’re approaching the Pink Season, my heart sisters. It’s that time of year when breast cancer awareness campaigns and their accompanying corporate marketing shills rev into high gear. Last Pinktober, we saw pink buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken, pink-handled Tasers, and (yes, seriously) pink Smith & Wesson handguns, each somehow helping us to be more aware of breast cancer. What could possibly top what breast cancer survivor and author Barbara Ehrenreich calls this “cult of pink kitsch” again this year? (See also: Think Before You Pink for some important questions* to ask about that pink ribbon).

From my perspective as a 37+ year veteran in the public relations field, I have to say that the breast cancer folks have done a fabulous job in raising awareness of their cause. So fabulous, in fact, that they have erroneously convinced women that breast cancer is our biggest health threat.

It is not, of course.  This year, heart disease will kill six times more women than breast cancer will.  In fact, heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined.  Yet heart patients and those who care for us seem to be oddly content sitting quietly on the back burner of that massive pink stovetop.

So in the interests of offering some balance here amidst a torrent of pinkwashing, I invite you to watch this 3-minute film called “Just a Little Heart Attack” from the American Heart Association.  Continue reading “A heart film to watch before the “Pink Season” gets here”