Puma Launches Project Pink as Brands, Consumers See to Avoid Pinkwashing

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Actress Nina Dobrev from Vampire Diaries moves from sucking it in red to kicking it in pink, joining Puma’s Project Pink, the athletic shoe and apparel brand’s ‘more-than-just-October’ campaign to fight breast cancer.

This is Puma’s second year-round effort initiated by their female pro soccer athletes including spokeswomen Amy Rodriguez, Leslie Osborne, Karina LeBlanc, Alex Scott, Tasha Kai, and Marta Vieira da Silva, and Puma Women’s Soccer Ambassador Julie Foudy.[more]

Dobrev’s role is media spokesperson, making appearances and encouraging fans to participate in the brand’s #projectpink Twitter hashtag campaign, which runs through the end of October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month:

Puma’s microsite lets consumers choose which charity deserves their donation. The brand will donate 100% of the profits from the sale of its Project Pink gear, while a five-mile race in August will raise money for the campaign.

A worthy cause, to be sure, yet as each October approaches, the growing trend of “pinkwashing” rears its ugly head. The New York Attorney General, for example, is suing the Coalition Against Breast Cancer, as a “sham charity.”

Amy Lubitow, Portland State University, and Mia Davis, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, published an article in the Journal of Environmental Justice describing “pinkwashing” as “the practice of companies adopting pink colors and ribbons to imply they support breast cancer research, while at the same time permitting the use of chemicals shown to cause cancer.”  

“The authors of this article draw needed attention to the dangerous use of consumers’ social and sometimes environmental consciousness by institutions who contribute to environmental health disparities,” said Sylvia Hood Washington, PhD, ND, MSE, MPH, Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Justice, and Research Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. 

“The blind financial support of these entities, by affected consumers, is a form of environmental injustice that is clearly elucidated by the authors.”

One example cited in the article is a company that marketed an alcoholic lemonade product to “pink your drink,” year round.

It’s a double-edged sword, to be sure. The NFL adorns its players during October’s Breast Cancer awareness month, with pink accessories, gloves and shoes — a campaign that has been praised, yet also criticized as “overexposure.”

The antidote to “pinkwashing” for consumers, and brands – be thoughtful, conscientious and do your due diligence so your pink ribbon campaign isn’t a case of feel-good window-dressing — or just “pretty in pink.”

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