Color as Cause: Where does pink go from here?

What cause will pink choose?

Earlier this week, we looked at how a name can frame an issue or idea. So can color.

The AIDS movement brought “color for a cause” into the mainstream with the red ribbon. Susan G. Komen took it to new heights with pink. They successfully made pink synonymous with breast cancer. From travel mugs to cupcake baking cups, you could pinkify your life and help erase breast cancer. Seemed like a win-win.

At some point, pink fatigue set in. Terms like “pink-washing” and “pink think” popped up. Organizations like Think Before You Pink were created to counter the proliferation of pink products flooding the market.

When the news hit that Komen would no longer fund Planned Parenthood, the pump was primed for some pink bashing. And heads they did a-roll.

Now that the crisis has passed, the question is: what will become of pink?

Here are two options:

#1  Carry on with business as usual
#2  Give pink a second lease on life

Pink is currently framed as the color of breast cancer. Perhaps it should be re-framed more broadly as the color of women’s health. 

Breast cancer is a women’s health issue. So are heart disease, depression, and osteoporosis. In North America, women out-live men by up to 10 years and on average 3.1 of those years are reduced quality. We’ve gotta get serious about getting women healthy. Maybe pink can help us do it.

Heck, if red can be the color of choice for both AIDS and heart disease and Valentine’s Day can become Generosity Day, the door’s wide open for pink’s next job to be raising awareness about women’s health so that loads more women can lead happier, healthier lives.

Mind you re-framing wouldn’t be a piece of pink cake. Re-framing takes work. Allison FineBeth KanterStephanie RudatAmy Sample WardLucy BernholzTom WatsonLisa Colton, and others kicked things off on Super Bowl Sunday with Take Back the Pink (#takebackthepink). This effort was focused on making pink about breast cancer as a cause, rather than Komen as an organization. It got the ball rolling.

What do you think? What should pink’s next job be? Should pink take on women’s health or stick with breast cancer? 

Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?