Dr. Borgen on the Negative Effects of Pinkwashing

Patrick Borgen, MD
Published: Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012

Patrick Borgen, MD, chair, Department of Surgery, director, Maimonides Breast Cancer Center, discusses the negative effects of “pinkwashing”, a process of making a product pink in order to gain from the association with breast cancer advocacy.

In recent years beast cancer research and funding has grown by leaps and bounds. Awareness and funding has been extraordinarily high due to the efforts of women advocating for each other and themselves. Successful advocacy campaigns have resulted in higher funding for clinical trials, which has led to breast cancer research being far ahead of other types of cancer.

Advocacy successes have not gone unnoticed and many companies have discovered that if you link a product to the cause it can increase sales. In many cases the company will give a portion of the revenue to a breast cancer organization. Initially this was very beneficial and bolstered funding but in recent years pinkwashing has gone overboard.

Many products that are unrelated, such as beer pong tables, KFC buckets, and even weaponry, have adopted the pink coloring. Borgen notes that after a certain point there is so many different pink items that it goes unnoticed. Pinkwashing results in consumers missing the point of the breast cancer cause, which lessens the impact of the entire campaign.

Patrick Borgen, MD, chair, Department of Surgery, director, Maimonides Breast Cancer Center, discusses the negative effects of “pinkwashing”, a process of making a product pink in order to gain from the association with breast cancer advocacy.

In recent years beast cancer research and funding has grown by leaps and bounds. Awareness and funding has been extraordinarily high due to the efforts of women advocating for each other and themselves. Successful advocacy campaigns have resulted in higher funding for clinical trials, which has led to breast cancer research being far ahead of other types of cancer.

Advocacy successes have not gone unnoticed and many companies have discovered that if you link a product to the cause it can increase sales. In many cases the company will give a portion of the revenue to a breast cancer organization. Initially this was very beneficial and bolstered funding but in recent years pinkwashing has gone overboard.

Many products that are unrelated, such as beer pong tables, KFC buckets, and even weaponry, have adopted the pink coloring. Borgen notes that after a certain point there is so many different pink items that it goes unnoticed. Pinkwashing results in consumers missing the point of the breast cancer cause, which lessens the impact of the entire campaign.


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