September 25, 2022

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

I think the cold is making people cranky

I think the cold is making people cranky

Social media presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to share thoughts, feelings, and causes with broad circles. On Facebook, your concerns and causes are there for your friends to see (or more, depending on the privacy settings you choose). On Twitter, the circles are even more broad.

Memes come and go, and vary from the interesting (Oolong the Pancake Rabbit), to the annoying (those 50 question memes with one-word answers; Rickrolling), to the cause related (posting the color of your bra for breast cancer awareness).

This last one landed in my inbox yesterday evening. It was from a friend, so I thought, “what the heck, this isn’t harming anyone” so I posted. I’ll admit I didn’t bother emailing the note to my other female Facebook friends, mostly because I appeared to be one of the last ones on the bus. (Okay, I waited to post until after I saw a few others do so.) Harmless. Fun.

For once, it was for a cause that wasn’t asking me for money. It was cheeky, and it’s about as subversive as I’ll get.

It didn’t take long at all for the backlash to start. A few friends posted in their status updates that posting a bra color doesn’t do anything for cancer awareness, and that the entire exercise was a demonstration of prurient interests. Now there are Facebook groups opposing the effort, a fairly negative post on one of Newsweek’s blogs, and a rather befuddled piece on Mashable.

The Mashable piece states that:

A Detroit blog
suggests that the color update craze was started by women in Detroit
who are trying to raise awareness around Breast Cancer (though October
is Breast Cancer Awareness Month).

The main criticism seems to be “this does nothing to raise awareness.” I beg to differ. How many are talking about this today? And, to the above point from Mashable–that it’s not October–my response is “exactly.” For the month before October, all the way through, almost everything is pink, including I kid you not, the styrofoam container that I buy sliced mushrooms in. (Really? Sliced mushrooms?) So it’s nice to have a reminder to do a BSE outside of October, when it’s everywhere. And they (whomever ‘they’ are) did this in a fun and harmless way. Contrast this to PETA, who basically raise awareness by seeing how absolutely over the top and offensive they can get, then sit back and wait for everyone else to do the work for them.

Is this little exercise going to find a cure? No.

Will it become annoying fast when every other cause starts trying the same thing? Yes.

But was it a pointless? No. Ladies, it’s January. Remember to do your BSE monthly.

And to everyone scoffing at the effort, please go have a hot chocolate or a glass of wine or something. This really isn’t something to get your knickers in a twist over. What color *are* your knickers? I’m asking to raise humor awareness.

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About The Author

Jennifer Zingsheim Phillips is the Director of Marketing Communications for CARMA. She is also the founder of 4L Strategies, and has worked in communications and public affairs for more than 20 years. Her background includes work in politics, government, lobbying, public affairs PR, content creation, and digital and social communications and media analysis.

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  1. @mstory123

    You go, Jen. Your point is right on the mark.

    Aflac once approached Ben Affleck to do a TV spot with the duck — the day before he was due to appear on one of the late-night shows. Ben turned down the offer immediately and thought it was strange – so strange that he mentioned it on whatever late night show he was on. And it was worth millions in free publicity.

    Who gives a rat’s ass about what application or what month or what channel is used to raise awareness of a disease that kills thousands of women per year?

    I would love to debate this one — go ahead, make my day.

    And you go, girlfriend.


  2. @Shonali

    Jen, what a level-headed response. I was impressed by some of the comments I read in one of the posts (I don’t remember which one) from breast cancer survivors, who clearly took this to heart. The passion/heated discussion quite took me aback. But the point you raise about breast cancer awareness in January when we’re freezing our butts off is a really good one.

    What I’d like to see (and I think a couple of my tweets reflected that) is someone taking advantage of this awareness to move people to action – if it’s nothing more than getting women to commit to monthly BSEs, starting an online group that checks in with each other regularly – whatever. Awareness is wonderful, but it needs to move people to action (the whole “outcome” thing I like to talk about). Otherwise it’s a blip on the radar screen.

    Good on you for bringing a rational voice to the discussion.

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