October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Are you seeing pink? If not, then you just haven’t been paying attention. The color pink is all around us right now. October has been designated Breast Cancer Awareness Month since 1985, and business’ response to this awareness campaign seems to grow stronger each year–as evidenced by the sheer volume of pink-themed merchandise being marketed.
It’s tempting to cast a cynical eye at the “living bouquet” of pink chocolate-dipped strawberries, the Lily Pulitzer scarves, the pink ribbon cookies, and the bright pink stovetop espresso pot. In my mind’s eye, I see a lineup of guys in sharkskin suits and skinny black ties going “heh-heh-heh” as they rub their hands in anticipation of the extra sales they’ll rack up this month selling “pink junk.”
But that’s my cynical self. A self that, since cancer, has been all but silenced. Now I see companies of ordinary men and women, people like me, who want to do something to fight breast cancer. Who want to help. Individuals who have a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, or a colleague battling or surviving (or dying from) breast cancer. Business owners and merchandisers who see the value in selling pink gear, AND in making a donation to a breast cancer organization. The whole marketing campaign, from media ads to e-mail offers, raises both money, and awareness. Nothing wrong with that.
But hey, if you’re still feeling skeptical, look at it this way. Do you feel taken advantage of when you buy Girl Scout cookies? It’s not as if the company that makes those cookies isn’t taking a profit. How about the candy bars your Little Leaguer sells? Think the chocolate company operates on goodwill? Profit isn’t a dirty word; it’s the lifeblood of business, and the basis of our capitalist society. So what if Ford puts some money in its own pocket, along with the $87 million it’s donated to breast cancer research over the past dozen years??
There’s a business mantra that really resonates with me, one I try to live each day: “First we will do good, then we will do well.” This month, with “think pink” the slogan du jour and pink merchandise taking center stage at the malls, cast aside your cynicism and believe it’s mostly (if not all) for a good cause. OUR cause. In the end, it takes all of us working together–including business–to make headway towards that elusive goal: the cure.