Thinking pink? It might not work

publication date: Jul 5, 2011
The Harvard Business Review is reporting a study that has found women to have a defensive response to gender cues used in marketing of diseases such as breast cancer. The colour pink and breast cancer is one of the strongest brands to have emerged in the last decade. However, says Stefano Puntoni, professor at the Rotterdam School of Management, research has indicated that the marketing effort may be counterproductive to the mission of the breast cancer campaign.

In study after study, tying breast cancer to gender cues or a feminine identity did nothing to cause women to identify with risk of the disease. In fact, a defensive or denial response was the result, where women felt less likely to contract the disease or donate to the cause.

Puntoni suggests that a marketing campaign could offset this response by including messaging that makes women reflect on their fear of breast cancer. When you bring attention to fear, then the denial reaction goes away.

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