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Coloring October Pink — A Marketing Perspective

To Washington and Lee University marketing professor Amanda Bower, October means two things: the arrival of Christmas catalogues in the mail and the predominance of pink.

“Everybody looks around at all the pink — from batteries to the White House — and wonders what is this and does it work,” said Bower, referring to the month-long campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Does all that pink make for an effective campaign?

“If you define effectiveness as fund-raising, then yes, it’s effective,” said Bower, associate professor of business administration at Washington and Lee. “The American Cancer Society last year raised just about twice what the Komen Foundation raised. If you think about that, the American Cancer Society is raising money for all the cancers, and Komen is raising money for just one. So proportionately speaking, Komen is doing a pretty good job.”


In Bower’s view, one reason that the pink campaign is successful is that the campaign does not focus on the horrible nature of the disease as opposed to, say, some campaigns for cruelty to animals in which photos of the abused animals predominate.

“The Susan Komen ads are bright and cheery and pink,” said Bower. “They have made it a sign of empowerment and love and support and positive reinforcement. The brand that Komen has created is not a depressing, sad brand; it’s a very positive, encouraging brand.”

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