Companies Accused of ‘Pinkwashing’
It seems like every company under the sun is sporting pink these days to show support for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation in its work to eradicate breast cancer. Heck, even National Football League teams wear pink as they attempt to knock the stuffing out of their opponents.
The ubiquitous nature of all this pink makes us wonder, cynical as we are, how many companies are talking the talk without really doing the walk. Just as a number of businesses have draped themselves in green while being anything other than eco-friendly, are others engaged in "pinkwashing."
A search on Google or other search engine of your choosing will deliver a large number of results for the term.
An Associated Press report pointed to some questionable tie-ins, includng a 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun with a pink grip. Even the Komen Foundation has come under criticism for licensing a perfume that allegedly contains chemicals associated with breast cancer.
Pinkwashing.org says the term is "used to describe the activities of companies and groups that position themselves as leaders in the struggle to eradicate breast cancer while engaging in practices that may be contributing to rising rates of the disease."
A documentary, Pink Ribbons, Inc., makes the case that much more could be done to fight breast cancer if consumers wrote checks directly to health organizations rather than participate in cause marketing programs where only a portion of a sale goes to groups like Komen.
- Pink ploy? Breast cancer charity motives doubted – The Associated Press/CBS News
- Pinkwashing.org – Blog
- TIFF ’11 Reviews: Last Roundup — Your Sister’s Sister, Chicken With Plums, Pink Ribbons, Inc. And Lucky – Movie City News
Discussion Questions: Do you see a pinkwashing backlash coming? How should retailers and brands deal with the issue in light of the potential for increased scrutiny from consumers, advocate groups and the media?