October is sure to bring three things: pumpkins, falling leaves and the explosion of pink. We all know October as Breast Cancer Awareness month and with that comes an eruption of pink from a variety of organizations and companies. Many big name industries take extreme measures to jump on the “pink” wagon. The Susan G. Komen foundation, which raises money year round for cancer research and treatment, has recently teamed up with one of the most unusual sponsors, Baker Hughes, a large Fracking company based out of Houston Texas. For those of you that do not know, Fracking is the process of drilling into the ground and injecting fluid deep in the Earth’s crust to fracture rocks below and release natural gas. Baker Hughes has agreed to a year long agreement with the Susan G. Komen foundation in which they have donated $100,000 as well as painted 1,000 of their drill heads pink and will have them shipped in pink boxes to all of their Fracking sites. Each of these pink boxes will also have various brochures and pamphlets with breast cancer information.
The irony is all of this is that research has recently found that a chemical often found in Fracking sites goes by the name of Benzene and is directly related to higher risks of developing breast cancer. The term deemed to companies that use the “Passionately Pink” color to gain recognition is called “pinkwashing.” Even though Baker Hughes appears to be helping the cause, the idea of painting pieces of equipment that will never be admired and actually reverse any cancer efforts, seems more like an attempt to protect their image than anything else.
The term used for companies attempting to “pinkwash” or borrow other causes programs for their own promotion is called Awareness Advertising, which is defined as “advertising that seeks to increase the name recognition of one business in the mind of consumers across a target market area.” Fracking has been a hot-button issue recently, and it is possible that their recent “pinkwashing” attempt is in hopes of erasing some of the bad press that comes with a company like Baker Hughes. Breast cancer awareness is something that many companies and organizations have attached themselves to because it is an easy platform to advance their companies on.
When October is over and breaking ground with these pink drills has happened, they will be quickly forgotten.This was a smart move made by Baker Hughes because of the publicity it received but is it ethical for companies to jump on important causes like cancer research to promote themselves? If Fracking is bad and studies show that the chemicals used might cause breast cancer, should the Susan G. Komen foundation accept these kinds of sponsorship despite the money involved?
-Brandon Hawkins, Bobby Huckabee, Tony Mangili, Danielle Salas, Savanna Mitchell
Great example. No the foundation should not take the money from obvious pink wash candidates. We live in an imperfect world full of fallen and complicated people and institutions but the NFL doesn’t cause breast cancer. It has upright athletes and very dysfunctional athletes. Fracking, by definition causes problems. Smoking by definition causes problems. We don’t expect Marlboro to co sponsor the NYC Marathon. Nice work.
Thanks for your comment, Dr. Olsen. Bringing up the NFL is an interesting point, considering what’s been going on over the last few months. Sure, the NFL has had their image problems, and recently their athletes have done some deplorable things. That being the case, they are not directly causing cancer. Therefore, donating to breast cancer research can still be seen as a positive. Fracking, on the other hand, could be raising awareness and causing cancer with the same pink drill bit. Overall, it portrays the company in a negative light. Interesting that a fracking company couldn’t see how this would backfire, considering the bad press they were receiving already.
I’m actually really glad to see an article covering “pink washing” especially about a company that contributes to the rise in cases of breast cancer. What many people do not know, but are quickly realizing, is that only a small percentage of money raised for these organizations goes to research and most donations are only used for “awareness.” I think at this point in time we are all very much aware of how deadly and how prevalent breast cancer is and we are asking for a solution to the problem, not just more attention.