Pinkwashing

nfl_pink As it recovers from locking out its employees and tries to stave off its players’ claims about its obvious extreme health dangers, the National Football League continues to exploit breast cancer to soften its image and increase the emotional habits and brand loyalties on which it trades.

Idoubtit, an excellent “skeptic” blogger and activist, has started a helpful thread on the topic.

The numbers involved are fascinating. The NFL has annual revenues of $9.5 billion, and yearly profits of $979 million. Business Insider reports:

According to the website, by purchasing pink items in the NFL Shop, fans can “support the fight against breast cancer with pink NFL breast cancer awareness gear.” Of course, there is a huge difference between supporting “awareness” and donating money to research. In the case of the former, most of the money ends up in the pockets of billionaire NFL owners.

When we contacted the NFL’s online shop for clarification, we were told 5% of the sales are being donated to the American Cancer Society. If the pink products have a typical 100% mark-up at retail, that means the NFL is keeping 90% of the profit from the sale of Breast Cancer Awareness gear.

And then consider that only 70.8% of money the ACS receives goes towards research and cancer programs. So, for every $100 in sales of pink gear, only $3.54 is going towards research while the NFL is keeping approximately $45 (based on 100% mark-up).

When the NFL wrote back to Business Insider to “clarify” the facts, it defended itself by saying it donates “approximately $1 million per year” to this cause it wants its fans to believe it seriously cares about.

“Approximately one million dollars,” however, is a mere one tenth of one percent of the NFL’s annual profits, and roughly one one-hundredth of one percent of its revenues.

Gosh, I wonder why they don’t brag about those numbers…

6 Replies to “Pinkwashing”

  1. “One Million Dollars” fromt the NFL is about what Jerry Jones’ face lift costs each year. That is beyond a joke.
    The concusssion issue was a fascinating development last year – there is absolutely nothing the NFL slaveowners can do to minimize the concussive impacts of steroidal assault that is the game, but they will PR it for as long as they can – no shots of the physical wreck that Jim McMahon has become, or testimony from beleagured wives of ex-gladiators.
    The problem has not become so acute that Steve Young gibbers on-screen, but off-screen, the truth of living with traumatic brain injury must be devastating. Outlaw the sport – the Patriots are going nowhere, anyway.

  2. You wonder how in the world they did put that on a shirt. What was the point supposed to be?

    Meanwhile, it is heartening. It’s a very divided society, isn’t it? A big swath of the public is quite up to speed on such things.

    Then, there are the others. Yesterday, in one of my upscale suburb’s Starbucks shops, I over-heard two 70-something men comment on how “nice” and “ladylike” they found it that the pack of teenage girls passing through the store were almost all wearing skirts…

  3. The next stage of this, Michael, is what actually happens with the breast cancer research money once it actually reaches the point of “finding a cure.”

    The money gets used to “raise awareness” in other ways; it funds salaries for laboratory and university administrators; it advertises programs encouraging women to buy mammogram radiation treatments at a vast profit from the health insurance industry. Any sign of cells acting in disorder, and it’s time to fork over money for horrendous surgeries and radiation therapy treatments that still, after decades, do not extend the survival time.

    The NFL is filthy and exploitative, but even if they started donating 100% of their profits to “charity” or “science” related to breast cancer, we’d only be right back where we started: elites marketing a terribly dangerous product to an uninformed consumer base with deadly planned obsolescence built in.

  4. Arka, we are already there: breast cancer is far less prevalent and deadly than lung cancer (http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@epidemiologysurveilance/documents/document/acspc-031941.pdf)

    Now come we don’t have proportionately more intensive marketing campaigns to cure lung cancer? My theory is that breast cancer is about boobs, and people love boobs, so they get an excuse to be obsessed with boobs under a more wholesome premise :)!

    If you think about it, that’s the exact same principle behind the popularity of NFL cheerleaders – under the inocuous guise of “cheering” and “team spirit”, it is really all about semi-naked chicks.

  5. PS ceteris paribus – lung cancer is more prevalent and deadly not just within the general population, but also specifically within the female half

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