“Buy enough pink things and you too will conquer cancer” (Smith, 2012). Pink coloured home loans, pink coated pads and tampons, pink laced bras and t-shirts that scream ‘save the ta-ta’s’. Breast Cancer has become subject to commercialisation that is growing over time.
There seems to be a growing trend of commodification for charities, like any debate there are positives and negatives to all situations. The ‘commodification’ of breast cancer varies depending on the campaign and who is being targeted. The stigmatisation of Breast Cancer has certainly changed from a time of isolation, where women ‘hid’ their disease to a time where empowerment is fostered and social support is sought. Society has evolved through the sudden boom of the pink culture, bought about by the feminist activists. Breast cancer was able to expand; not only through its awareness but also through medical assistance it has doubled in comparison to any type of cancer in Australia (Thinkbeforeyoupink.org, 2016).
The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) is an institution that is designed to raise awareness for thousands of Australian women diagnosed with Breast Cancer. The NBCF are able to support breast cancer patients by providing them with extensive medical assistance, funding support groups and providing products at a discounted rate to help through their treatment. Between 2014-2015 the NBCF raised $24.1 million, through their multiple fundraising functions and willing donators (The National Breast Cancer Foundation, 2015). NBCF also provided $10.5 million to invest in research and researcher support. As it is a non-government based organisation all funds are donated to multiple communities and different tactics of fundraising (The National Breast Cancer Foundation, 2015). The foundation has set a goal, by 2030 there will be zero deaths from breast cancer, there is no doubt that the NBCF has had a positive impact on patients and families.
In order to raise awareness, breast cancer organisations must consider how to target the diverse variety of groups throughout Australia. From pens, to perfume, shoes and perfume, pink marketing has reached new heights in ‘slapping’ the pink ribbon on multiple products and companies to show support. SE Smith from the Guardian writes, “Big firms have learned that breast cancer is a profit-generated tool and they aren’t willing to give it up” (Smith, 2012).
For example the leading American breast cancer company The Komen Foundation, 2011 the company released the perfume ‘promise me’ designed to raise awareness for breast cancer (Landman, 2011). However the perfume proved to contain galaxolide and other toxic chemicals that have been deemed highly cancerous (Sulik, 2011). It was also found that only $1.51 or 3% of the $59.00 charged for the perfume was given to breast cancer research (Landman, 2011). The Komen Foundation stands as only a minuscule example of how some organisations are commoditizing charitable causes. Another example is the array of newly released t-shirts from the Save the Ta Tas foundation, displaying slogans such as ‘save the ta tas’ or ‘save a life grope your wife’ (Save the ta-tas, 2016). It has been said that only 5% of proceedings has been directed towards cancer research, while also utilising sexualised humour in order to appeal to a wider audience and shed light on the topic in an unethical way (Florence, 2016).
Commoditising is one of the concerns regarding breast cancer awareness. While all fundraising objectives are aimed to help patients and fund research, it is evident that not all products, companies and strategies used are crucial in raising awareness.
If you have any thoughts on the topic feel free to leave a comment!
- Smith, S. (2012). Pinkification: how breast cancer awareness got commodified for profit | SE Smith. [online] the Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/03/pinkification-breast-cancer-awareness-commodified [Accessed 13 May 2016].
- org. (2016). Think Before You Pink » 4 Questions Before You Buy Pink. [online] Available at: http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/resources/before-you-buy/ [Accessed 13 May 2016].
- Landman, A. (2011). Susan G. Komen, Pinkwashing? “Promise Me” It’s Not True. [online] PR Watch. Available at: http://www.prwatch.org/news/2011/09/11043/susan-g-komen-pinkwashing-promise-me-its-not-true [Accessed 13 May 2016].
- Sulik, G. (2011). Pink ribbon blues. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Save the ta-tas®. (2016). Home | Save the ta-tas® – Breast Cancer Research. [online] Available at: http://savethetatas.org [Accessed 13 May 2016].
- Florence, S. (2016). End Sexism in Breast Cancer Awareness Campaigns. [online] ForceChange. Available at: https://forcechange.com/69334/end-sexism-in-breast-cancer-awareness-campaigns/ [Accessed 13 May 2016].