Pink Ribbons, Pro-Choice, and Pinterest
Earlier this week, Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced that it will no longer fund $700,000 annually to Planned Parenthood. This funding gap translates into 170,000 mammograms for low-income women- nothing to sneeze at- so donors stepped up to fill the void (Thank you, Mayor Bloomberg, for your $250,000 matching gift!), and other organizations released statements sharing their points of view. As Kivi Leroux Miller, aptly puts it in her blog on the topic, “Komen for the Cure, it seems, is no longer a breast cancer charity, but a pro-life breast cancer charity.” According to Mother Jones, Kivi might be right.
This decision became a massive multi-media story overnight, and everyone’s fingers are in this messy communications pie. While Nancy Brinker’s video makes the case for their decision, she fails to address the political undercurrent that many people feel is implicit in this decision. By not tackling head-on the issue on most people’s minds, she’s missing the point of the protests and arguably making matters worse for her organization.
Perhaps the most innovative form of protesting I’ve seen this week is happening on Pinterest, the new social media darling of the nonprofit sector. Beth Kanter started a “Komen Can Kiss My Mammogram” group board, an aggregate of images related to this protest with comments by the 650+ contributors adding to it daily. It’s grassroots activism in pictures; Beth calls it “PinActivism”. Good stuff.
From a positioning point of view, I’m interested to see how this debacle will impact perceptions of the pink ribbon as the icon for the breast cancer movement? Komen has played a key role in making the pink ribbon (originally created by Evelyn Lauder) popular. If the ribbon can transcend politics it should weather the storm. If not, many organizations in the breast cancer movement may have some work to do.