The Problems with Breast Cancer Awareness Advertising

With October now in full swing you may have noticed or been bombarded with pink on every corner. From the top of the Hancock, to the pink ribbon flags downtown, pink NFL uniform details or pink campaigns from a majority of companies the pink advertising of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is all around us. But despite the pink that seemingly flows from the sky in October breast cancer is still a huge problem and this may be due to the myriad of ads that miss the mark and don’t really seem to help the cause at all. Two of the most prevalent problems with breast cancer awareness ads are pink washing and the over sexualization of breasts in the ads.

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Despite pink being my favorite color, I’m calling it: there is too much pink! Especially when most of the pink ads or promotions from companies don’t actually raise awareness or support the cause in any way. This is otherwise known as pink washing, where marketers use breast cancer to promote their products and supposedly donate to breast cancer charities.  In reality companies hardly reveal where the pink money goes and it would be better to donate directly to breast cancer charities rather than buying supportive products. Not only is pink promotion often just a marketing ploy, it also spreads empty awareness.  Sure pink ribbons help to remind people of breast cancer, but that is not the end goal. If we truly want to end breast cancer there needs to be a call to action in these ads that help to actually prevent women getting cancer. Lastly, pink ads spread false information about the cancer. Whether early detection, up playing the likelihood of getting it or not providing accurate statistics these ads are actually detrimental to the cause but greatly benefit the company leading to higher profits. Pink ads should make false claims simply to promote their products. So I ask you to think before you pink this October.


The second, though certainly not the last problem with breast cancer awareness ads is that most of the time they are directed at men and hope to end breast cancer because of their sexual value, ever heard of save second base? The problem here is that it places value on the breasts themselves over the woman.  While these ads may go a step further than the pink fluff to actually promote self-exams they don’t do it in the best way. Not only do they sexualize the exam but by claiming you should get an exam because we like boobs doesn’t help the problem. It distracts us from the goal of saving women’s lives and not just their breasts. What are some other problems you see in breast cancer advertising or do you think these really aren’t problems?

Translated caption of video: It is indeed a Breast Cancer can endanger a nice pair of tits, but could be worse: Every 8 hours a woman dies of Breast Cancer in Chile. Men in Chile, we lower that number, encourages a woman to get a breast exam!


Por Amor a las Tetas. (2013, October 1). Retrieved October 9, 2014, from

Stop the Distraction. (n.d.). Retrieved October 9, 2014, from

The Daily Targum. (2014, October 8). Retrieved October 9, 2014, from women not just the boobs

3 thoughts on “The Problems with Breast Cancer Awareness Advertising

  1. This has become a hot topic in many of my classes. Despite it being a great cause, there is one major problem that arises from using the “Pink”. Many companies use this to bring in fans and appeal to women, as well as raising awareness for breast cancer. The problem arises when these companies do not donate any of the profit towards breast cancer research. Not to be frank or rude, but everyone is aware of breast cancer. Now it’s time to do something about it.


  2. I agree on the pink washing statement. The world now is so realistic that every brand/company seizes any chance they have to promote their brand awareness instead of the awareness of the cause they are supposed to promote. And it is true that the end goal of pink ads or any other ads like Earth Day is not to raise awareness but to raise profit for the brands. Also, I think it is overrated to dedicate a month to a cause because it only opens up opportunities for more cold-blooded ads.


  3. I definitely agree that this is a problem we face. Not only are companies manipulating the cause, but I also read that even charities like Susan G. Komen for the Cure are taking advantage. I did a little research to make sure I wasn’t just making this up and I found an article that said only 20.9% of allocated funds are used for research (and this is a “multi-million dollar company with assets totaling over $390 million dollars). By looking into the Komen website, one can also find that employees of the company are getting paid ridiculous salaries that are higher than doctors and politicians. It’s sad that such a big and real issue is being manipulated for profit like this.


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