This October marks 20 years of Breast Cancer Action’s Think Before You Pink campaign. In the past BCA has called out “pinkwashers” from all over the map. To mark 20 years BCA takes on the biggest monster of all, capitalism. The machine fueling much of what Breast Cancer Action works against.
From the BCA, “Rampant, unregulated capitalism both causes breast cancer and encourages profiteering from the disease.
The practices and tactics of bloated pink ribbon capitalism are designed to encourage unlimited profiteering, not the structural change solutions that will end the breast cancer crisis. Think Before You Pink’s 20-year legacy of calling out pinkwashing provides an invaluable inlet into identifying and disrupting deceptive marketing tactics and profit-driven campaigns that are implemented performatively only, in the name of social justice causes, but have one true motive: profit.
The prioritization of profit above all else – including public health – exacerbates health inequities and worsens health outcomes, including increasing our risk for breast cancer.
How Capitalism Encourages Profiteering from Breast Cancer
The industry tactics we’re exposing are the Manipulation of Media, Marketing, and Advertising, Disinformation and the Suppression of Scientific Evidence, and Political Influence and Interference.
The Manipulation of Media, Marketing, and Advertising
Cause marketers exploit the constituencies they claim to serve (such as people living with breast cancer), turning harsh human realities into a saleable commodity. Direct-to-consumer advertising by Big Pharma plays to the hopes and fears of ailing individuals by presenting biased, over-simplified information focused on possible outcomes while ignoring or downplaying the seriousness of side effects.
Disinformation and the Suppression of Scientific Evidence
For-profit corporations have been found to suppress scientific information that links their products to increased breast cancer risk, so that they can continue to grow their profits. Worse yet, the regulatory agencies that are tasked with monitoring these corporations often turn a blind eye to these practices as capitalism has metastasized to normalize profit as the ultimate goal, ignoring community safety, public health, and the right to live free of toxic environmental exposures.
Political Influence and Interference
Under capitalism in this country, corporate stakeholders can be appointed to regulatory agencies, and people from regulatory agencies often leave to become lobbyists for the corporate sector they once regulated. This “revolving door” practice is illegal in many countries but it thrives under capitalism. This often leads to “regulatory capture” which occurs when an agency that exists to serve public interest instead advances the commercial or political concerns of special interest groups within an industry.
Pink Ribbon Marketing Has Evolved
Now it’s bigger than pink post-its, pink ribbon perfume, and pink personal care products. Industry tactics have evolved. Pink ribbon marketing campaigns have become less blatant and their deceptive marketing strategies can be harder to spot.
But our Think Before You Pink® campaign has evolved as well. Think Before You Pink: A (R)Evolution doesn’t just call out one specific pink product. We’re calling out gross, profit-above-all-else capitalism as the common denominator throughout two decades of our Think Before You Pink® campaigns.
Twenty years ago we launched our first-ever Think Before You Pink® campaign “Who’s Really Cleaning Up?” directed at Eureka Vacuum’s pink ribbon cause-marketing campaign. Now, in our 20th anniversary campaign, we’ve evolved and we’re asking, “Who’s Really Capitalizing?” on the tactics employed across pink ribbon marketing culture, and how?
Pink ribbon marketing culture and pinkwashing have paved the way for the commodification of other social justice issues, as cause-marketing is running amok under capitalism. Whether it’s pinkwashing, greenwashing, or rainbow-washing, capitalist campaigns worship consumerism as the solution to the social justice causes with which we are grappling, and distract from true, structural change solutions.
The Revolution We’re Calling For
We’re exposing how uncontrolled capitalism causes breast cancer and encourages profiteering from the disease. The prioritization of profit above all else is responsible for exacerbating the climate crisis, the continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry creating toxic exposures across the fossil fuel continuum, the environmental racism causing that results in breast cancer disparities, and the ability of corporations to continue to poison our products with cancer-causing chemicals. The increase in breast cancer risk caused by each of these injustices is downplayed so that mega-nonprofits, corporations, executives, and shareholders can continue to line their pockets.
While corporations make billions off the disease, we have not seen nearly enough progress in breast cancer treatment, prevention, survival, and inequities.
Dismantling the systems that enable profit-driven pinkwashing calls for radical structural change, and it means working toward our organizational vision: a world in which people and communities thrive because they are healthy, liberated, and free from breast cancer.
Throughout Think Before You Pink: A (R)Evolution, join us to:
We’ll be releasing educational materials and resources throughout October so you can learn more about how rampant, late-stage capitalism encourages profiteering off of breast cancer.
Help spread the word on the consequences of pinkwashing and share our resources with your community, including our newly-revised Think Before You Pink® toolkit.
Attend our October member connector event, Radical Disruption Compassionate Resistance, and stay tuned to take action on our campaign!”
You can learn more about Breast Cancer Action here.
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