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Damien's Blog

Pink is the New Green - From Greenwashing to PinkWashing?

By Damien Patton, (465 words) Posted in Corporate on October 14, 2009
There are (36) comments permalink

The month of October is known as Breast Cancer Awareness month. We have all seen the pink ribbons, products with a new pink color and even NFL uniforms changed to draw attention and donations for this great cause.

Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Ribbon

Just as corporate America hijacked green living to benefit their marketing and bottom lines, they are now using "pink" to pad their pockets without benefiting or financially giving back to breast cancer organizations. It is one thing to use people’s love for the environment to make a buck, but to con the consumer into thinking that purchasing certain products will benefit breast cancer and breast cancer research is just ludicrous.

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of examples of companies hijacking "pink" to benefit them this month. It should be said that many companies are doing the right thing and donating back to breast cancer funds, but this blog is about those companies that are praying on consumer's emotional impulses when buying.

One such company that is "fooling" consumers is Swiffer Sweeper, made by Proctor and Gamble. Daily Finance reported that Swiffer is using a pink ribbon on their packaging to promote the sales of their floor cleaning products. So how much of the consumers purchase goes to help fight breast cancer? The answer, 2 cents. But wait, this only gets donated if you use a special coupon that was sent out in a newspaper circulation at the end of September. So, in the majority of cases nothing gets donated when a consumer buys a Swiffer with a pink ribbon on it. At best, 2 cents is donated when someone uses the coupon.

If I was a woman I would be outraged by Swiffer's attempt to manipulate and exploit the consumer. As a consumer, advocate for breast cancer organizations, and a person with cancer survivors in my immediate family, I find this type of consumer exploitation beyond reprehensible. Since the majority of Swiffer's customers are women, I am hoping this message gets out loud and clear. The best way to send a message to Proctor and Gamble is to ignore their products, or at least the Swiffer floor cleaning products.

When shopping for "pink" products make sure to look at the label. Does it say they are donating to cancer research or to a particular organization? Do you have to send in UPC labels, lids, coupons etc in order for there to be a donation? In several cases you will find out that the label says "bringing awareness" which usually means that the company isn’t giving back to cancer organizations and is just using the label to help sell products.

I applaud the companies truly making efforts to support Breast Cancer Awareness. To the companies using a pink ribbon to trick consumers, I say shame on you!

Icon: author blog About the Author:
Damien is the Founder and CEO of FindAnyFloor.com as well as several other technolgy businesses specializing in social media and search.
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Comments (36)

Rose posted on: October 14, 2009

I am livid to hear that this type of manipulation is going on to capitalize on breast cancer month. I am a breast cancer survivor and just had surgery in June and this makes me want to cry. Shame on Corporate America!!!

Damien Patton posted on: October 14, 2009

I am glad to hear you are a survivor Rose. Having people close to me that have survived breast cancer made me very upset to read the research done by Daily Finance. We have seen it for years with exploiting being green, but to manipulate such a personal cause for sales is beyond sickening.

Thank you for your reply.

Jennifer posted on: October 14, 2009

My mom is a survivor, I have several friends who are survivors and unfortunately several friends who lost their battle to Breast Cancer. After reading this, I am pissed! I started doing a little digging into this and I now see that companies are putting on a pink ribbon to promote "awareness", not to donate to the cause......OR in order for them to donate you need to take further action. Well now we know we can't assume a ribbon means part of your money gets donated. Just another method of false advertising...but to prey on people effected by cancer which is probably every man woman and child....that takes it to a whole new level!

Robert Coats posted on: October 14, 2009

Wrap a flag around it, label it green, stick a pink ribbon on the box and if you are an auto mechanic make sure that you have the Christian fish logo on your symbol.

Affinity marketing to a consumers emotional ties can be powerful when the same compassion and conviction is shared by the brand.

When it's not, and it appears in this case that it's not, it's a rather sickening practice by fellow marketers.

As consumers become more aware that their emotions, beliefs and good intentions are being used to get them to buy products under false pretenses, there will be a backlash against ALL products that use affinity marketing techniques. Even those that are trying to raise awareness for noble causes with the right intentions.

Rob J posted on: October 21, 2009

What you've described about the Swiffer campaign is not only dishonest, it's also very outdated. Thanks to social media, and blogs like this one in particular, consumers have a louder voice than ever. Companies should realize that this kind of manipulation just won't play as long as consumer are active in pointing it out to friends, followers, and blog readers.

Thanks for the post!

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