Breast cancer charities that are considering using the colour pink in their marketing materials and on promotional items may want to think again, a new report suggests.

Marketing Week reports that a study by leading business schools indicates using the colour in charity advertising could lead to reduced donations and a lack of support from women.

The report, by London Business School, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and international business school INSEAD claims that pink ribbons, backgrounds and images of women can trigger defence mechanisms in women that interfere with what a charity awareness campaign is trying to achieve.

Going against the common belief in the advertising industry that the use of pink is effective, Dr Stefano Puntoni, associate professor of marketing at Rotterdam School of Management and co-author of the report, was quoted as saying: “These defensive mechanisms interfere with key objectives of breast cancer campaigns.

“For example, they lower women's perceived vulnerability to breast cancer, reduce their donations to ovarian cancer research, make breast cancer advertisements more difficult to process, and decrease memory for breast cancer advertisements.”

The claim was refuted by Breakthrough Breast Cancer, which decided to change its branding from purple to pink based on research that found supporters and the public make a strong connection between pink and breast cancer charities.

Deanne Gardner, head of brand and communication at the charity, told Marketing Week: “The colour pink is now universally associated with breast cancer and breast cancer charities. 

“The association [with the colour pink] can be powerful in encouraging people to donate, check their breasts and get involved in the fantastic work that many breast cancer charities, such as Breakthrough Breast Cancer, are doing.”

According to the Charities Aid Foundation, 56 per cent of adults living in households in the UK donated to charitable causes in 2009/10.

Breast cancer charities warned that pink is counterproductive“. Marketing Week. Monday July 25th 2011.

Posted by Cheryl Jackson-Leafield