“Celebrate Life” Breast Cancer Support Fleece Jacket: Fighting for the Cure Never Looked So Good

Soft fleece with butterflies, uplifting message on back, embroidered ribbon on front, ribbon zipper pulls. Portion of proceeds supports the cause.

Price: $99.00 US (Available in 4 installments of $24.75)
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For only $99, we can celebrate life and support the cause in style? Sign me up! Actually, don’t. How narcissistic and naive does The Bradford Exchange think consumers really are? From this ad, I’d have to conclude that the answer is “very.” The feel good, lifestyle approach to fighting the good fight has taken precedence over the realities and the work involved in actually dealing with breast cancer. The “Celebrate Life” ad continues:

“Show your proud support as you wrap yourself in the pretty-in-pink warmth of a cozy embroidered fleece jacket. Now, The Bradford Exchange offers an attractive way to recognize and remember those whose lives have been touched by breast cancer. Graced with the distinct embroidered emblem of a pink ribbon and beautiful butterflies, this decorative women’s fleece will warm you all over as a portion of the proceeds from your purchase will be donated to breast cancer charity.

There is much to critique about this advertisement. Pride, attractiveness, cutesy femininity, and symbolic action are all wrapped up in a cozy pink ribbon package. The ad gives a shout out to those who have been “touched by breast cancer” as ribbons, butterflies, and decorative fleece stand in for actual support and action. Since “a portion of the proceeds” will be “donated to breast cancer charity” consumers can take heart that something somewhere is being done.

The ad doesn’t stop there. It goes on to invoke the “challenge” and “fight” of breast cancer and the need for “cure” even as it calls for hope, celebration, uplift, and urgency.

“Expertly fashioned of high-quality fleece for warmth and wind resistance, and featuring a flattering princess cut, this uplifting jacket lets you fight for a cure in style. The zippered front and two side pockets are each accented with a sculptural breast cancer ribbon pull and the uplifting challenge to “Celebrate Life” is embroidered across the shoulders. Wrap yourself in hope with this one-of-a-kind embroidered fleece jacket, but don’t wait. Fight for a cure and order now!”Celebrate Life” Breast Cancer Support Fleece Jacket.”

Fighting for the cure never looked or felt so good! The exclusivity of this one-of-a-kind, expertly fashioned, high-quality jacket offers membership to a niche market of socially aware, stylized women.

In the current climate this ad would be critiqued, but not for the messages outlined above. More likely, this ad would be criticized for its squishy-ness around how much money goes where. Portions of proceeds and breast cancer charity are phrases that are simply too vague to ensure any accountability. Indeed, transparency and accountability are phase 1 for any decent cause marketing plan. And, it would behoove us to consider all of the revenue streams and profit centers within and outside of the cancer industry. But should the critique stop there? Is it really just about the money?

The messages in the “Celebrate Life” ad are rampant in pink ribbon culture and cause marketing. Instead of moving the public toward deeper understanding of breast cancer and the steps needed to tackle it, the branding of the illness to a niche market of stylish, socially aware individuals does exactly the opposite. We’re supposed to feel warm and fuzzy about the cause of the pink ribbon and display our pride in style. Nothing more.

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3 comments to “Celebrate Life” Breast Cancer Support Fleece Jacket

  • Exactly like the ad-copy I saw for Bradford Exchanges pre-lit Breast Cancer Awareness Christmas Tree on one of their targeted Facebook advertisements….

    “Celebrate the season of hope with pink-ribbon pizazz in this breast cancer support pre-decorated pull up Christmas tree.”

    So Christmas is now the “Season of Hope”, and apparently we need pink-ribbon pizazz in our lives? Isn’t incurable Stage IV breast cancer enough? Like I said in my recent blog entry, they have even found a way to put the Breast in Christmas. Merry Breastmas.

    This all needs to stop. NOW!

  • Tru

    Oh, isn’t this the truth! Gayle, I bought Pink Ribbon Blues and enjoyed it a great deal. I’m so glad you’re still blogging here, too. I’m as frustrated as you are with the constant selling of breast cancer “awareness” and “concern” as fashionable and stylish, not to mention hot and sexy. We need to keep up the cultural criticism, because we’re fighting back against an avalanche of pink-ribbon tchotchkes and two decades of people being sold the message that you simply don’t dare question this stuff because to do it is to be a spoilsport, a member of the anti-sex league and a killjoy, not to mention an ungrateful wretch who hasn’t yet learned that “beggars can’t be choosers” and that women who have had breast cancer are, indeed, beggars…

    I’m with Anna. I’ve never been able to understand anyone’s desire to make reminders of my breast cancer a part of my annual Christmas celebrations. The pink-ribbon ornaments are bad enough–now there’s a whole TREE?? Heaven help us.

  • Thanks for your comment. The idea that women who have breast cancer are “beggars who can’t be choosers” is an important point. How dare we have so many standards? Many diagnosed women have told me that they feel guilty if they bring up questionable marketing messages and strategies. But, it’s long overdue. It’s time to take a deep breath and let out a sigh of discontent. You are clearly not alone. May our sighs together become a roar.

To speak her truth, she needed to give her words and identity away, to a trusted poet and friend @stevedavenport breastcancerconsortium.net/ov…

“Pink Ribbon Blues”

Paperback includes a new Introduction on fundraising controversies and a color insert with images of, and reactions to, the pinking of breast cancer (2012).


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* GAYLE IN THE MEDIA *

"Seeing clearly through the pink haze" Toronto Sun

*Sad face*: Being happy does not help you live longer" New Scientist

How should we address breast cancer when norms continually change? The Guardian

Your Fun 'No Bra Day' Photos Are Overshadowing Terminal Breast Cancer Patients Broadly

Backlash against “pinkwashing” of breast cancer awareness campaigns BMJ

Breast Cancer to Rise 50 Percent by 2030? Hey, Not So Fast! Health News Review

Breast Cancer: The Flaws in the Cause iafrica.com

How to Make the Biggest Impact With Your Breast Cancer Donations Money

The Very Pink, Very Controversial Business of Breast Cancer Awareness Racked

NFL, Pink Ribbons Not Enough to Win over Women CNN

3 Questions We Need to Answer for Breast Cancer Awareness Month Chronicle of Philanthropy

The problem with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Women's Health Magazine

Pink Ribbon Envy: Living with an Uncool Cancer The Nib

A Year After Bombings, Some Say 'Boston Strong' Has Gone Overboard NPR, All Things Considered

Canadian Mammogram Study KCRW, NPR Affiliate

Time to Debunk the Mammography Myth CNN

Breast Cancer: Awareness, Activism & Pinkwashing NPR Charlotte

Buying Pink Al Jazeera's The Stream Watch »

The Pink Backlash Orlando Sentinel

Why Jolie's Test Costs So Much CNN

Preventative Mastectomies: Disease and Deception BlogTalkRadio

Angelina Jolie and the 'Breast Cancer Gene' KCRW

Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer The New York Times Magazine.

The Story Behind the Pink Ribbon Campaign Sisters Talk Radio

WISH Interview Women's International Summit for Health

Making Cancer About The Patient, Not The Body Part CBS Pittsburgh

Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger many patients USA Today

The perils of pink The Daily

Komen pink campaign creates breast-cancer blues for some Dallas Morning News

A yellow flag for the NFL's pink New York Daily

Gayle Sulik named #7 in SharecareNow’s Top 10 Online Influencers in Breast Cancer

Breast cancer cancer causes so easily derailed Philly Inquirer

Komen Charity Under Microscope for Funding, Science Reuters

The Fight Against Cancer - And Abortion? Salon.com

Susan G. Komen For the Cure defunds Planned Parenthood. In Deep with Angie Coiro

Amid Breast Cancer Month, Is there Pink Fatigue? NPR's All Things Considered

How is Breast Cancer Culture Undermining Women's Health? America’s Radio News Network

Pink Ribbon Culture and Breast Cancer The Kojo Nnamdi Show

The Big Business of Breast Cancer
Marie Claire

Does Breast Cancer Awareness Month Crowd Out Other Diseases? Slate

Pink Inc. Has Many Starting to See Red The Sacramento Bee

Get Your Pink Off Ottawa Citizen

Komen Pink Ribbons Raise Green and Questions USA Today

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