Are Companies Going Too Far with Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

Everywhere you look this month, there is pink. From the original pink ribbons that were designed to impress on people the importance of being aware of breast cancer to products that companies roll out just for this month, the cause has grown into something that many deem inappropriate.

Recently on SFGate, Heidi Benson wrote an article titled “Pinklash!” It looks at why some people feel that companies are going just a little too far with the whole Breast Cancer Awareness business. Many feel that this is just another PR tool and that no one in big business really cares about breast cancer . . . they’re just boosting their bottom line by offering specialty products for a month or two.

On one hand, we have those who say that the movement has picked up some serious steam and the more publicity breast cancer gets, the better. These pink fans are all for big companies turning out pink appliances or changing the color of their website for October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. After all, wearing a pink cap or bracelet might just remind someone to do a self exam today or to schedule a mammogram. For this group, pink is a stimulus, it causes people to think about something that might be otherwise pushed aside by our every day hustle and bustle.

Breast cancer productsOn the other hand, there are those who feel that October is turning into something akin to Valentine’s Day and other holidays that have been turned into nothing more than excuses to get consumers to buy more and spend more money. That’s not to say that pink haters aren’t interested in promoting breast cancer awareness and donating to research funds, it means they are looking to keep things focused on the real issue . . . the 192,370 women who will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year alone.

Is one side right? Should we skip the big corporation pink publicity blitzes because it is turning breast cancer into something to be commercialized? It all depends on who you talk to. Even victims of breast cancer vary on the topic and while people discuss whether or not it’s a good idea, pink products are flying off the shelves at the supermarket, sports shop and even the computer store.

In the end, I have to ask . . . if companies are doing this just for the boost in PR, does it really matter? They may be looking at the bottom line, but the fact is that they ARE still raising awareness and they are still donating to breast cancer research, something that is an extremely valuable contribution, regardless of the intention.

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