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Do corporate sponsorships derail the message of breast cancer awareness?




Members of the Buffalo Bills wear pink during a game against the Arizona Cardinals for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Members of the Buffalo Bills wear pink during a game against the Arizona Cardinals for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Norm Hall/Getty Images

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), in case all the pink ribbons everywhere aren’t enough of a reminder. BCAM was started in 1985 by Astra Zeneca, a pharmaceutical company that sells cancer drugs. In the 18 years since, BCAM has ballooned into one of the most successful awareness-raising campaigns the country has seen.

Corporations from Coca Cola to General Mills are all participants, donating a percentage of profits to breast cancer research. Even the NFL is in on the action, with players, coaches and referees playing in pink game apparel and more. But there also have been some less than reverent tributes.

Case in point: the folks at Simple Pickup, the YouTube channel dedicated to peddling pick up advice, went around asking women to let them motor-boat them on camera, in exchange for a $20 donation to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The site ended up raising close to $7,000.

Is breast cancer, as a cause, in danger of being co-opted? Have corporate sponsorships and stunts such as the one perpetrated by Simple Pickup derailed the message of breast cancer awareness?

Guests:
Samantha King, Ph.D., Author, “Pink Ribbons, Inc.: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy;” Assoc. Professor and Acting Director, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada)

Kimmy McAtee, VP of Communications, Keep a Breast Foundation creator of “i love boobies!” campaign