Dealing with corporate ‘pink marketing’ in October

“October is designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and our local Revlon is promoting this month with a free T-shift with your purchases of Revlon products.”

Terrible sales pitch, right? Yeah, but don’t blame me. It’s straight from the blogosphere.

This month, newsrooms across the country were inundated with pink, as poorly disguised sales pitches guilted unsuspecting editors into assigning reporters to cover events in the name of cancer awareness. With all that guilt in the air, pink is becoming one of the most powerful weapons in the PR arsenal of corporate Trinidad.

One waterfront hotel, otherwise known for its big game fishing, its state-sponsored cookie-catered corporate functions, and its CONCACAF secret meetings knowingly facilitated by FIFA executives embroiled in bribery scandals, told the media that it was “Pink and Proud” this October.

The Guardian reported on First Citizens’ new “sleek PINK Credit Card“. How much ‘sleeker’ is one credit card from another, right? Good question. But Marketing 101 still holds true: You don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle!

I’ve also received flyers and invites to many ‘pink’ parties and ‘pink’ fashion shows, some promoters adding further insult by posting embarassing pix of tipsy women–dressed in pink–to various social media websites. You know the deal.

Here’s my thing. I feel as if journalists are being made to feel that, in the name of Cancer Awareness, we should cover PR events that we would otherwise pretty much ignore.

But, to paraphrase the country’s most infamous bespectacled neighbourhood watchman, child porn distributor and self-proclaimed citizen journalist, I don’t take chain up.

I agree that the local media should do more to demonstrate that we care about cancer, but using cheap-o, lame-o marketing tools to win media coverage isn’t just a harmless mistake. Its actually hurting the Cancer Awareness cause!

Not to mention that a pinkwashing counter-lobby is now using grassroots and social media channels to pinpoint corporate entities 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.

Another movement called “Think before you Pink“, calls on corporate entities to go beyond superficial commitments (like sponsoring mammograms) and put their corporate dollar where their pink mouth is. BTW, one very sleek bank, according to its website,  contributes a humble “$200,000 each year to the PINK Card Fund.”

Genuine cancer awareness activists must dedicate time, energy and creativity to building professional relationships with editors and reporters. Maybe together, we could find ways to keep the non-newsy but still very important cancer-related issues at the top of the news agenda.


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