Thinking Pink? Consumer Reactions to Pink Ribbons and Vague Messages in Advertising

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Taylor & Francis

Source Publication

Journal of Marketing Communications

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Original Item ID

doi: 10.1080/13527266.2015.1105280


Many brands partner with causes in their advertising campaigns. Consumers appreciate that the brands they purchase participate in activities that contribute to a society’s well-being. This study uses copy-testing techniques to evaluate the number and types of thoughts and brand attitudes in the presence and absence of cause-related messages. Individuals saw an ad for one of two products. None of the ads stated the brand’s financial support to the cause, which is representative of many messages today. People viewing the Dansko ads with the pink ribbon generated significantly fewer thoughts than those viewing the ad without the pink ribbon. For the Fitbit ads, more thoughts were generated for the ad with the pink ribbon than the ad without the pink ribbon. The Fitbit ad with the pink ribbon and support message generated fewer positive and negative thoughts but more neutral thoughts that questioned the brand/cause relationship. Attitudes toward the brand did not vary based on the presence or absence of the pink ribbon. People who saw ads with the pink ribbon displayed more positive attitudes toward the brands’ commitment to society and misestimated the brands’ contributions to the cause.


Journal of Marketing Communications, (December 2015). DOI.