The PR Power of Pink: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

When I was growing up, October always meant all things pink: a huge pink ribbon on my softball bag, pink-outs for high school football games and pink clip-in hair extensions. Everything, that was able to became pink. But pink in October was much more than just a pretty color to wear.

In October, the color pink represents breast cancer awareness, which focuses on efforts to educate people about the signs and symptoms of the disease. Breast cancer awareness organizations have been able to build their brands from the notion that breast cancer is synonymous with the color pink, and other brands are utilizing pink in October to do the same. But believe it or not, the widely recognized color did not start as pink.

Who picked pink?

According to a CURE article, in the early 1990s Charlotte Haley, a breast cancer survivor, began creating and distributing thousands of peach-colored ribbons in hopes of getting the attention of American legislators. At the time, only 5% of The National Cancer Institute’s $1.8 billion budget was going toward cancer prevention (fortunately its 2022 budget allocated 44% of the budget to research project grants). As the ribbons and message began to spread around the country, SELF magazine adopted Haley’s ribbon empire and notably changed the color from peach to pink, which has become the worldwide symbol for breast cancer.

What brands wear pink?

In October, both low-end and high-end brands add pink to their products or give a percentage of their sales to support breast cancer awareness organizations. For example, imPRESS, a press-on nail company, allows consumers to shop limited-edition, pink nails, and 10% of those sales benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Additionally, Vera Bradley participates in breast cancer awareness month as 20% of sales from a selection of exclusive pink styles go toward its foundation, which has “donated more than $38 million” to breast cancer research.

Lingua Franca, a luxury cashmere sweater brand, is selling a crewneck sweater that says “check yourself” in pink writing, which reminds women to regularly perform self breast assessments that can help detect breast cancer early on. Twenty percent of those sales are donated to Stand Up to Cancer.

Evidently, the size or power of a brand does not affect its ability to incorporate pink into its products to benefit breast cancer awareness during October.

Why Think Pink?

From a public relations perspective, brands incorporating pink into their products and donating to breast cancer awareness organizations during October are both strategic and admirable. It allows brands to educate their consumers on a disease that affects them and their loved ones while reinforcing how they are caring and proactive brands.

Practicing corporate social responsibility as a brand truly matters to consumers. According to a Platform Magazine article, “A study revealed that nine-in-10 millennials reported that they would switch to brands that are associated with a cause.”

The most important takeaway here is to not forget the true meaning of pink in October. Breast cancer is a serious disease that affects millions of lives every year. In fact, 1 in 8 women is predicted to be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Recognizing the importance of early detection and treatment can save countless lives.

The next time you see the color pink anywhere this month remember the following four things. First, educate yourself and others on the risk factors, signs and symptoms of the disease. Second, support those affected by reaching out to those who have battled breast cancer now or in the past. Third, donate to organizations that support breast cancer awareness and finding a cure. Fourth, get a mammogram, especially if you are over the age of 40 or have risk factors.

During this month, take the time to add pink to your brand’s campaigns or content calendars, and educate your audience on the importance of why you are doing so.

Chloe Petro is a senior public relations and general business student at The University of Alabama. She is from Morris Plains, New Jersey and currently serves as pro bono director for Capstone Agency’s annual CreateAthon event. She enjoys going to the Jersey Shore and cheering on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Bryant-Denny Stadium! If you’re interested in contacting Chloe, you can find her on LinkedIn.

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