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The Enduring Power of the Pink Ribbon

Every October... National Breast Cancer Awareness Month... I write a post wherein I bow admiringly (and low!) to the power of the pink ribbon. This month in America you can’t swing a leaf rake without hitting breast cancer fundraising or awareness in the store, the mall, your home, or in any media outlet.

To wit this FSI (Free-Standing Insert) page from Brillo, which makes steel wool scrubbing pads infused with a detergent, usually green but for the next little while available in pink-ribbon pink.

When you buy a pack of Brillo pads, $0.25 goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, up to a limit of $50,000.

Brillo doesn’t even bother messaging this promotion to breast cancer. Why bother? Only some crazily-creative Hollywood writer-type… Joss Whedon, maybe?…could possibly draw a link between breast cancer and Brillo pads that comes across as empowering rather than sexist.

Instead, Brillo plays it absolutely straight. Here’s the pink Brillo pads, here’s Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s logo featuring the pink ribbon, here’s what the donation is when you buy the product.

This is exactly the kind of cause marketing that Carol Cone, the doyenne of cause marketing, told us was dead. This is precisely the kind of old-school cause marketing that JWT described as retrograde in its white paper called 'Social Good.'

You know what? So strong is the affinity of the pink ribbon, that I’ll bet you a case of pink Brillo pads that this promotion meets all of Brillo’s sales goals for it.

Anyone want to take me up on that bet?


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