For Immediate Release
Contact: Tibby Reas Hinderlie
Breast Cancer Action Communications Manager

Breast Cancer Action Calls Out Late-Stage Capitalism as the Common Denominator Across Decades of Pink Ribbon Marketing Campaigns

BCAction Launches 20th Anniversary Think Before You Pink® Campaign

(October 1, 2022) Breast Cancer Action’s October campaign, “Think Before You Pink: A (R)Evolution” recognizes the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking corporate accountability campaign and names a common culprit across more than two decades of pink ribbon marketing: capitalism.

“A (R)Evolution” breaks down three common industry tactics by which rampant, unchecked capitalism has enabled corporate profiteering off of breast cancer, and our public health crises more largely. Scrutinizing 1) the Manipulation of Media, Marketing, and Advertising, 2) Disinformation and the Suppression of Scientific Evidence, and 3) Political Influence and Interference, the campaign exposes strategies by which profit is put before public health across industries, allowing for bad actors to line their pockets as the breast cancer crisis continues.

“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,” states Breast Cancer Action Deputy Director Heather Perkins.  “Unregulated capitalism that puts profit above all else is responsible for contributing to the burden of diseases, including breast cancer, and it causes and exacerbates health inequities.”

The campaign offers educational pieces on how pink ribbon marketing has evolved, but so has Think Before You Pink®. “Industry tactics have evolved. More recently, pink ribbon marketing campaigns have become less blatant and their deceptive marketing strategies can be harder to spot,” says Zoë Christopher, Breast Cancer Action’s Program Officer. “Companies routinely slapped a pink ribbon on a shoe or a perfume, sometimes only to ‘raise awareness,’ without contributing anything to breast cancer issues. Though pink ribbon marketing is more inconspicuous now, cause-marketing has been normalized under unchecked capitalism. But Breast Cancer Action is evolving too. This year we’re not just calling out one pink ribbon product. We’re calling out bloated , profit-above-all-else capitalism as the common denominator throughout two decades of our Think Before You Pink® campaigns.”

“A (R)Evolution” connects the dots across more than 20 years of pink ribbons and breast cancer fundraising, revealing that the foundational system that enables and encourages profiteering off of breast cancer while framing consumerism as the solution is capitalism.

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 campaigners worship consumerism as the solution to the social justice causes they claim to support, and distract from true, structural change solutions.

Think Before You Pink® first launched in 2002 in response to the growing concern about the number of pink ribbon products on the market. The campaign pushes back on corporations, mega-nonprofits, government leaders, and regulatory agencies that use pink ribbons and empty awareness to distract from the systemic issues at the core of this crisis.  That first campaign, “Who’s Really Cleaning Up?” called out Eureka Vacuum and American Express’s pink ribbon marketing and subsequent profiteering,  and 20 years later, the anniversary campaign, “A (R)Evolution,” asks similar questions, this time pondering “Who’s really capitalizing, and how?”

Breast Cancer Action will be releasing educational materials and resources throughout the month of October, encouraging breast cancer activists to “Educate. Organize. And Take Action” with this year’s campaign “Think Before You Pink: A (R)Evolution.”

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Breast Cancer Action is a national education, advocacy, and activist nonprofit organization whose mission is to achieve health justice for all people at risk of and living with breast cancer. Founded in 1990 in the San Francisco Bay Area, BCAction recognized its 30th anniversary on the same year the organization went fully remote, with staff across the country, in 2020. The organization debuted their first-ever Think Before You Pink® campaign in 2002, and is now honoring the 20th anniversary of the campaign in 2022. Launching the first day of “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Breast Cancer Action’s annual Think Before You Pink® campaign demands transparency from and pushes back on corporations, mega-nonprofits , and government agencies that claim to care about breast cancer while promoting products and policies that increase breast cancer risk. To Breast Cancer Action, October is better known as “Breast Cancer Industry Month.” The organization has a strict conflict of interest policy and refuses corporate funding from any company that profits from or contributes to breast cancer.