You’ve heard of greenwashing. That’s when a product claims to be green without scientific evidence. Now, products are claiming to support pink causes without much backing leading some to call this latest phenomenon “pinkwashing.”

The grocery store is filled with pink ribbons in October during breast cancer awareness month. From the cereal aisle to the pet food, you’ll find pink ribbons on all sorts of products. The Better Business Bureau is even warning consumers to look closely to see what that pink ribbon really means.

I found the pink ribbons support two different breast cancer agencies even though the ribbons look almost identical. There is a slight difference that’s hard to notice at quick glance. Secondly, some products say who they are donating to and how much while others don’t say anything. With some products you have to enter a code online once you get the product in order for a donation to be made.

The Federal Trade Commission beefed up its green guidelines to deal with greenwashing, so can we expect the same with pinkwashing?

Breast Cancer Action launched its own campaign to counter the pink onslaught. The group calls it “Think Before You Pink.”

A professor I spoke with at the Weatherhead School of Management said this is really a relationship between the consumer, organization, and company. It’s the consumers that drive this campaign.

It seems the campaigns work. One of the more controversial ones involved Kentucky Fried Chicken this spring when they turned their buckets pink. Some questioned whether that was a good move considering KFC may not be viewed as the most healthy. KFC’s goal was to make the single largest donation ever to Susan G. Komen and they say they succeeded. So, it seems for now that consumers are buying into this pink phenomenon.


Click here to see how much companies donate to Susan G. Komen

Click here to find out more about the National Breast Cancer Foundation partner programs

Remember, some organizations make it easier than others to figure out the connection between the pink ribbon and a donation.

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