Pink Is For Men, Too

My travels during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October took me to a suburban Ulta Beauty store. There was a great deal of cause marketing going on there, none of it… not surprisingly… aimed at a someone like me.

I was in the store for perhaps 30 minutes and not another man appeared during that time. Not even one in the tow of a wife or girlfriend. For men, going into an Ulta is a matter of being a stranger in a strange land.

But that doesn’t answer the puzzlement of why you don’t see cause marketing aimed at men. 

Men are, after all, both directly and indirectly affected by breast cancer. About 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and about 400 men a year die from it. Nonetheless, it’s far more likely that men will be indirectly affected by breast cancer via their wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and cousins. My mother was a breast cancer survivor, for instance.



Men love and care for women and so it’s fair to say that men have a major stake in breast cancer awareness and a cure. So where’s the pink ribbon cause marketing targeted at men?

Some pink ribbon merchandise comes in men’s sizes. The NFL offers pink merchandise in men’s sizes in conjunction with its partner the American Cancer Society. A man could certainly play tennis with a Wilson Hope Lite racquet or soccer with Puma Project Pink skill ball. There’s some pink ribbon jewelry that men could wear.

A man could buy sliced meats and cheeses from Boar’s Head … sold in the deli sections of many grocery stores in North America … which has done pink ribbon cause marketing in the past. And, of course, there’s soaps, candles, shampoos, lotions, and other potions festooned with pink ribbons … that men can and do use …but which aren’t marketed to the male gender, per se.

But here’s a current pink ribbon cause marketer that could specifically target men: Tic Tacs.

The little mini breath mints in a clear plastic box sported the pink ribbon during October. Tic Tac donated $100,000 to CancerCare, a nonprofit that provides counseling, support groups, information, and the like to people with any type of cancer. The campaign was called “Shake, Care, and Share.” The flavors were a pink strawberry mixed with a white cream flavor to make strawberries and cream.

I can see the TV ad even now. A handsome man, perhaps 30, enters a building complex passing a sign that says “Breast Cancer Treatment Center” and dashes up the stairs. Over this footage a voiceover says: “This October, Tic Tac, the little breath mints with just two calories each, is donating $100,000 to CancerCare, the charity that helps thousands of Americans deal with cancer.”

The man walks into the waiting room, and scans it. He sees who he’s looking for, makes a quick wave and a smile. He pulls a box of Tic Tacs out of his pants pocket and pops a couple into his mouth. He walks over and kisses a woman on the forehead, who we only just now see for the first time. She’s very striking, about 60, and has ultra short hair. She smiles back, but carefully. She’s a little tired.

“Hi mom,” he says brightly, “you ready for another go round?”

The mother nods bravely and they walk together into the next room, hand-in-hand.

Fade to black. Bring up logos.

Narrator: “Tic Tac. Shake, Care, and Share.”

As a man, that’s an ad I could respond to.

1 comment about "Pink Is For Men, Too".
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  1. Polina Hoering from Marketing Professional, November 12, 2012 at 10:38 a.m.

    Hi Paul,
    I loved your post! I've been always interested in cause related marketing and this is a wonderful example on how it can be done! There is another one, I recently came across by chance, I'd like to share with you: By selling umbrellas, the nonprofit company provides a day's worth of clean water for 20 people in the Horn of Africa, a region with strong water shortage.

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