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There has been enormous growth over the last 10 years in breast cancer culture (BCC), a culture that uses unique discourses about gender, consumerism and the disease itself. This article explores the concomitant commodification of BCC where products are branded and sold with ‘breast cancer’ signage of various kinds – in particular, the colour pink. Unlike other cancers, breast cancer appears to have been utilised by both corporations and campaigns for profit, using an array of methods. The article discusses the ways in which this has been achieved using an analysis of imagery connoting femininity since 1950 and connecting this to contemporary theories about marketing and consumer choice. It finds that multinational corporations have been uniquely successful in building market share through the use of colour and imagery associated with BCC, and that consumers are equally interested in associating themselves with the cause through acts of ‘prosociality’ (buying products) that signify philanthropy. These linkages are, in turn, becoming weaker with products gesturing towards breast cancer via colour without contributing to breast cancer research, which marked earlier marketing campaigns. It concludes that breast cancer pink is a signifier of a number of gendered discourses that are utilised by both marketeers and breast cancer organisations to increase profit and membership, respectively. This leads to an unparalleled complex web of consumerism and marketing distinctive to this particular cancer.

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Journal Article

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