Breast Cancer Awareness Month has come to an end and with it the myriad of brand partnerships in support of this important cause. As the years go on we become more an more aware of a concept that’s been labeled as “pinkwashing.” The term was coined to describe those products and brand affiliating themselves with breast cancer that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find.
Among the regular cast of product partnerships, 5-hour Energy’s affiliation with Living Beyond Breast Cancer certainly stands out. From now until the end of 2014, 5-hour Energy is donating 5 cents from every sale of White Pink Lemonade to Living Beyond Breast Cancer. FoodFacts.com finds this to be the oddest food/beverage partnership we’ve seen.
We have a product with questionable ingredients that have been linked to emergency room visits and even fatalities partnering for a cause that’s meant to increase awareness of a devastating disease and call attention to efforts to promote its early detection and prevention. It’s not just that the ingredients in energy drinks are controversial — it’s that they’re actually harmful in much more immediate ways than other controversial items.
So while we’re happy that 5-hour Energy committed to a minimum donation of $200,000 to Living Beyond Breast Cancer, we still find it a strange marriage. There are plenty of food manufacturers committing to breast cancer through a number of different organizations. Yoplait has been a Susan G. Komen Foundation supporter for years, along with Dietz & Watson, Bimbo Bakeries and Eggland’s Best.
There was a lot of news during this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month regarding pinkwashing. Some of that news called into question the appropriateness of certain partnerships and asked whether or not organizations accepting donations should be more selective regarding the brands which which they choose to affiliate.
Don’t get us wrong — FoodFacts.com is happy to see corporations donate money to good causes. But, let’s not forget that when their efforts are put in front of the public with a pink ribbon on product packaging and press releases talking about donating a percentage of sales to the cause, it is marketing. So when Living Beyond Breast Cancer forges a partnership with 5-hour Energy, they’re encouraging consumers to purchase a product that can actually hurt them.
We personally gravitate towards partnerships that make more sense for everyone involved — including the consumers who are the targets of any kind of cause marketing.