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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org: 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.
Have you seen pink ribbon products being sold during summer? If so, what have you seen?
Tags: breast cancer, cancer, cause marketing, cause marketing and breast cancer, MelonUp! cancer, MelonUp! Pink Ribbon watermelon