Watermelon for a Cure

Posted on: July 29th, 2015 by
15

When it comes to cause marketing, I thought I’d seen it all — until I walked into the grocery store the other day. As soon as I walked in, I saw seedless watermelons sporting large pink-ribbon stickers. And to add insult to pink injury, right next to the ribbon the sticker said, “A Sweet Way to Stay Healthy.”

This cutesy message strongly implies that watermelon somehow protects people from breast cancer. This campaign is called MelonUp!, and its website boasts the cancer-preventing benefits of eating seedless watermelon.

The website says, “Lycopene is a red pigment that gives watermelon its color. It’s packed with antioxidants, which are known to prevent cancer.” Oh, and if this misinformation isn’t enough, the website says, “Through nutrition education on the health benefits of watermelon, combined with donations to breast cancer organizations, we endeavor to help the estimated 1 in 8 women who will be affected by this cancer, and to never give up the fight for a cure. You can help support this worthy cause when you purchase MelonUp! Pink Ribbon watermelons. Every juicy bite of a MelonUp! Pink Ribbon melon helps to fund critical breast cancer research.”

Puh-lease. This rhetoric, which has been seen time and time again, is tiresome. And that’s not all: people can download a ridiculous MelonUp! Pink Ribbon Watermelon App for $1 where one can play a fun seed-spitting game and where all proceeds will supposedly be donated to cancer research. And the irony of the game wasn’t lost on me since MelonUp is touting its SEEDLESS watermelons.

Watermelon

I love watermelon. In fact, it’s my favorite fruit. I grew up eating lots — and I mean an enormous amount — of watermelon and have continued eating it. And I got breast cancer anyway. I still eat a lot of this fruit and enjoy it immensely. While watermelon is a healthy food, I have no illusions that it will keep me healthy.

Here’s the e-mail I sent to melonup@robinsonfresh.com: The letter is short and melon-sweet.

To Whom It May Concern:

I love eating seedless watermelon. You are certainly right about it being a nutritious, delicious food. I’ve always eaten lots of watermelon — with and without seeds — and relish the fruit.

However, I don’t relish the inaccurate message you are sending customers — the one about watermelon’s ability to keep people healthy and cancer-free. Despite all the watermelon I’ve eaten in my life, I got breast cancer anyway. Cancer causes suffering and death, and watermelon cannot prevent cancer.

By implying that watermelon prevents cancer, you are misinforming the public and doing them a disservice.

While I would like the MelonUp! campaign to be dismantled, I realize this request is unrealistic, given your organization’s penchant for cause marketing. However, I implore you to change the wording on your website. You could start by touting the value of watermelon without linking it to cancer prevention.

I appreciate your taking the time to read this e-mail and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Beth Gainer

Have you seen pink ribbon products being sold during summer? If so, what have you seen?


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15 Responses to Watermelon for a Cure

  1. Terri had this to say about that:

    I have one thing to say to you, Beth:
    Go spit some watermelon seeds in their eye and you go girl!!!

    Rebuttal to company well stated! Thank you for representing all BC survivors, present company included.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Terri,

      I’m laughing out loud at your comment.

      I hope the company answers my letter. Thank you for your kind words. :)

  2. Cancer Curmudgeon had this to say about that:

    I hope you will report back the reply, that is, IF you get a reply. Very curious!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Cancer Curmudgeon,

      I will definitely report back should I get a reply. I know it’s a big IF. I also sent them a tweet about this very topic.

  3. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    Big sigh… Good for you for sending off that email. I wonder if you’ll hear back. And yes, that is ironic about the seed-spitting game app. And just think, soon it will be October – time for pink pumpkins and who knows what else, right? Thanks for the post.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thanks, Nancy.

      I haven’t heard back yet, and I have a feeling I won’t. Yes, October is right around the corner, and I’m sure we will all be shocked at some new pink product.

      Every year I try to embrace October. It’s a wonderful month, but it’s difficult not to let pink drag one down.

  4. Rebecca had this to say about that:

    I grew up in an island and had access to over 20 different fruit trees in my yard, including the famous soursop which supposedly prevents cancer. I don’t know why people are inclined to lie to consumers with no scientific evidence. I am sure most of the people who buy into these lies are the ones who don’t have cancer because those are the ones who may not be educated enough about the illness. But like you mentioned Beth, that is dangerous because it sends the wrong message to people.

    I don’t like October. I haven’t seen anything pink yet but i am not looking forward to it.

    I hope you get a response to your letter. Thanks for doing that. The patients seem to be the only people who can help educate.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Rebecca,

      I had never heard of soursop. I think it’s amazing to have so many fruit trees in your yard.

      Your point is a good one: people who don’t have cancer are probably the ones who buy into this type of campaign. I hope I do get a response to my letter, but I truly doubt I will. I’ve heard not a peep from the organization.

      Thank you for reading my post and commenting.

  5. Kathi had this to say about that:

    You go, girl! And yes, do tell if you hear from them. :)

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thanks, Kathi! If I hear from them, I will keep everyone posted. I doubt I will hear anything from this organization, though.

  6. Susan had this to say about that:

    Oh my Beth. Unbelievable. I see it’s the big marketing machine on their Facebook page but It might be fun to post this on it at: https://www.facebook.com/PinkRibbonWatermelon and/or reference their Twitter-Tumbler account at: http://pinkribbonwatermelon.tumblr.com/. I’m sure you saw all of this though! xoxo- Susan

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Susan,

      I actually didn’t see all of this information, so thank you. I will post it on their Facebook page, They’re not getting away with this easily!

  7. Pingback: Weekly Round Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  8. Scott Johnson had this to say about that:

    My Dad worked in advertising and the no reply / no response to your concerns is really bad marketing these days. Companies do notice feedback and I bet the ad agency that thought up the campaign is going to hear from watermelon central over this.
    Susan’s finding the Facebook page and twitter handle is great. I’d also suggest the Better Business Bureau and various agriculture associations and market organizations.
    Good for you to go after them! Their slow response might be caused by trying to find a doctor to endorse their claims. No physician I know would walk into this trap and risk a lawsuit.
    My favorite pink product is the multi-bit pink screw driver we keep in the car. Good match to feeling of being screwed by cancer, but mostly it’s just easy to find:-)

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Scott,

      I will follow up as best I can, though I know it may seem futile. But perhaps with enough complaints, the general public will be served.

      I agree that no doctor would want to be affiliated with such a claim.

      I think it’s cool that you have a pink screw driver, and the metaphor is very appropriate.

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Scott. I appreciate your feedback.

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