When brands and organizations “go pink” for National Breast Cancer Awareness month (or NBCAM) to raise money or awareness, critics have taken to calling some companies out for “pinkwashing,” suggesting they’re only in it for their own gain. Basically, they’re accusing people and companies of piggybacking on a disease in order to look good, sell novelty items, and rally to raise awareness and maybe even some extra cash for themselves. That’s a heavy finger to point.
It used to be a controversial assertion, but after nearly 20 years of NBCAM, “pinkwashing” is just accepted as a necessary evil. (If you still don’t buy it, consider the fact the NBCAM was started as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and a massive pharmaceutical company.) We know that plenty of pinkwashing happens, because it’s just too easy to dupe well-meaning consumers into buying your pink product because they’ve come to trust that color and that ribbon.
This is just another marketing tactic hitching its ride to the massive commercialization surrounding a disease.
There’s also a hyper-sexualization in many of these campaigns – because, you know, boobs – that adds to the already inherent sliminess of using a deadly disease to boost your own business. And because the Internet will always find a way to be manipulative, trendy, timely, and slimy, it’s created the ultimate pinkwashed product for this year’s NBCAM: The Tweeting Bra.
The Tweeting Bra, brought to you by OgilvyOne Athens, does exactly what you think it will. Oh, you have no idea either? I was imagining a caricature of a bra sitting at a keyboard, following @Horse_ebooks and trying to think up a witty 140-character takeaway of last night’s episode of SNL. What the Tweeting Bra actually does is send a tweet every time you unclasped it.
Now listen, I’m a working lady, and I too know the joy of going home, putting on a comically oversized sweatshirt, and unhinging the oft-obnoxious societal convention that is the bra. It is a moment worth celebrating – but perhaps not one that the Internet need take part in.
Of course the Tweeting Bra is just trying to do its part for breast Cancer awareness. Those tweets are making you aware, guys! You are now aware that somewhere, some ladies jugs are swinging low sweet chariot, and maybe you’re like “Boobs … breast cancer … my boobs … what if I have cancer? Maybe I should give myself a self exam? Maybe I should schedule a mammogram!”
If this were a very special episode of Reba, one of Reba’s daughters would see a tweet, first start off snarky, and then maybe get a little worried (but she wouldn’t let anyone know it – no way! She’s too outwardly strong!). She would do a self exam, feel something weird and go to the doctor. And then it would be a cyst or a mole or something, and everyone would get really worried, at which point it would cut to commercial. Four minutes later, the doctor would be like “You’re all good! Totally benign!” and there would crying and laughing, and hugging, and pizza, and the episode would end with a note on where you can receive more information about breast cancer.
But hey, it’s not Reba. This is real life, and Twitter is a horrible convention for these purposes anyway. Do you know how fast that feed moves? Do you know how many other, more effective methods of awareness raising are going on? This is just another marketing tactic hitching its ride to the massive commercialization surrounding a disease and trying to get some spotlight from it in the process.
Also, it could reveal how often you secretly unclasped your bra at work, and if your coworkers follow you on Twitter, things could get weird. Not that that’s a thing people do, I just heard about it from a friend this one time.