Acronym of the week would be more accurate, but GDUFA will be used as a word so it might as well be defined as one. With the passage of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act on July 9, 2012, GDUFA (‘Generic Drug User Fee Amendments...
by Deirdre Middleton, Vice President, Healthcare
With October now behind us,
we say goodbye to
the ribbons and tributes that p aint the town pink and make us all focus on breast cancer, its impact on everyone and the importance of doing what we can do to promote research and identify ways to help people survive. We have seen the pink and blue and red cause programs for several years now and people are beginning to wonder: “Does this brand really mean it or are they simply trying to make a sale?”
Since trends and growing concerns are often given names, the public has turned this question into the accusing term “pinkwashing,” or “redwashing,” or “just the color-of-the-cause” washing. They all mean the same thing – consumers think that brands are using causes to create affinity and to encourage purchase.
We can trace the roots of cause-related marketing back to the 1970s with one of the first examples: the unique partnership between Famous Amos cookies and Literacy Volunteers of America. Through the program, Wally Amos served as the national spokesperson for the Literacy Volunteers of America and raised awareness of the issue of illiteracy more than any had before. Through the collaboration, Famous Amos generated significant consumer recognition for the company story and began its ongoing commitment to literacy programs.
Since then, many beloved brands have taken up causes to create moments in time to highlight their brands and their committed charities. Today, we see many of those brands sport the color pink and support the fight against breast cancer – from yogurt and makeup to underwear and beverages – they are aligning their products with the cause and provide varying levels of support.
And there are benefits to both sides for these cause-related partnerships. According to a 2010 survey, 40% of people bought a product or service within the previous year because it was associated with a cause or issue. And, studies have shown that people will even bid more when purchasing cause-related items on eBay.
On the flip side, non-profit organizations can leverage the benefits of larger corporate visibility initiatives and increased point-of-contact with potential contributors.
The skepticism comes into play when people begin to see brands supporting charities that have no clear tie or even seem counterintuitive. When I first saw a prominent firearms company’s pink-themed campaign to benefit breast cancer, I had a hard time making the connection. Since I wasn’t in the market for a pistol, it didn’t really impact a purchasing decision, but I couldn’t help but see it as an example of a brand that seemed to pick up a cause or a color to increase sales. In the end, though, such actions could hurt their credibility and lead consumers to lump their brands in with the pinkwashers.
There is no question that a place exists for cause (or color) marketing, as it can and is a good thing for all parties when an effective and symbiotic relationship is established. As marketers, we need to take a thoughtful and practical approach to this practice and identify collaborative partners that make sense from both a business and a communications perspective while, hopefully, making the world a little bit better in the process.
We capture the opinions and insights of several of our employees on a variety of communication topics about Healthcare.