You’re Blushing! Tackling Uncomfortable Issues with Cause Marketing

It’s hard to believe breast cancer was once a salacious issue for a company to support. Once considered too personal to discuss outside the doctor’s office, today it is the cookie-cutter cause to support in October. You know the issue has shed its societal stigma when everything from soup cans to paper towels bears the pink ribbon in your neighborhood grocery store. However that does not imply we’re past all the blushing and squirming when it comes to public dialogue of very personal health issues.

In the latest breast cancer controversy, one organization’s playful “I Love Boobies” charity bracelets are being expelled from several school districts across the country. Schools claim the bracelets, which benefit the Keep A Breast Foundation, were banned for being “sexually suggestive” or “offensive.” Yet this isn’t the first time we’ve seen light-hearted or humorous campaigns face some resistance and flushed cheeks. Efforts such as “Save the Ta-Tas,” the “Fashion Targets Breast Cancer” commercial and the “Save the Boobs” PSA have all come under fire.

Some touchy issues may be shooed away from the schoolyard, but others are looking to target the youth market. MTV recently teamed up with the popular geo-location provider Foursquare to offer the first cause-related badge for checking in to…ahem…STD testing centers. Part of the network’s Get Yourself Tested campaign, the partnership hopes to dampen embarrassment and instead raise awareness, dialogue and action from teens about sexual health. And what better way to get the word out than allowing brave teens to announce their responsible actions to their entire social networks?

Although shock-factor is sure to get attention for these causes, core to all these campaigns is the authentic desire to get the public talking about important issues, even if they are uncomfortable. Once the dialogue is open, there is room for progress toward solving these serious issues. Perhaps one day discussing STD prevention will overcome the gasps and be as acceptable in our public dialogue as fighting breast cancer.


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