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THE ETHICS OF PINKWASHING: Is pink the new black? But not all pink products — which signify

donation is not tied to product sales,”

to toasters, consumers may notice more

breast cancer awareness — carry an

Berg says.

product packaging increasingly turning

equal benefit.

From shoes to fried chicken and cars

Unfortunately, most charities are reluc-

Specifically, Berg’s research critically

tant to speak up against a business that

fashion than with marketers aligning with

analyzed the marketing ethics of Mike’s

donates money to them, Berg says. As a

breast cancer awareness. But is this always

Hard Pink Lemonade and KitchenAid Cook

result, she recommends that communication

a good thing?

for the Cure. Berg’s methods applied a test

practitioners and industry leaders should

shades of pink. The hue has less to do with

that measures the marketing campaign’s

take a stand for universal standards for

of public relations, found in her research

fulfillment of truthfulness, authenticity,

cause-related marketing.

that some brands may be engaging in

respect, equity and social responsibility.

Dr. Kati Tusinski Berg, assistant professor

a process known as “pinkwashing,” or

“The persuasive communication used in

marketing that has more to do with the

these campaigns fail to meet the five prin-

business bottom line than giving back.

ciples of the test,” Berg says. “We argue that

“Some companies take advantage of consumers’ concern about breast cancer,”

In one example, Mike’s Hard Lemonade failed to disclose on its packaging that its

marketing pink products while donating

donation to the Breast Cancer Awareness

little or nothing to the cause.”

Foundation was not tied in any way to

last decade for cause-related marketing, which attempts to gain customers by tying purchases of goods or services to charity.

“Think before you pink,” she says. — TC

consumers are particularly vulnerable.”

Berg says. “In reality, they’re profiting from

Berg noted a dramatic increase in the

And in the meantime? Consumers should be wary.

consumer purchase or action — which may have encouraged fewer sales. “Their message is deceptive because the packaging does not explicitly state that the

WHAT’S THE VALUE IN A LEGAL BRIEF? As a practicing attorney, Chad Oldfather

In developing his methodology,

What he found in the preliminary data

often wondered how fully judges engaged

Oldfather and his research partners, who

is, first, enough of a correlation between

with the briefs he submitted on behalf of

include University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee

the computational and human assessments

his clients.

computer science professor Dr. Joseph

to support the conclusion that the compu-

Bockhorst, employed three ways of analyz-

tational methods are getting at what they

Law School, Oldfather has devoted much of

Now a professor at Marquette University

ing a group of cases decided by the U.S.

are intended to measure. There was also

his scholarly attention to exploring just how

Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Two

a “relatively surprising lack of correspon-

focused on input from litigants judges should

of the analyses involved computational

dence between opinions and briefs,” says

be. Most recently, he used computational

methods, which allowed researchers to

Oldfather — suggesting that judges weren’t

methods to assess whether decisions issued

“read” large numbers of documents in a

strongly influenced by the briefs that

by the court actually reflected the briefs sub-

short period of time. The first, in effect,

attorneys labored over. As the methodol-

mitted by the litigants in a particular case.

treated the briefs and opinion in each case

ogy becomes more sophisticated, it has the

as a collection of words and assessed the

potential to provide payoffs to academics

on faith that judicial opinions accurately

“Legal scholarship has historically taken

overlap among them. The second measured

and practitioners alike.

reflect the facts of the cases they discuss

the overlap in authorities cited, such as

because there was no alternative,” he

statutes and prior cases, in the opinions

of assessing how courts behave, which may

continues. “This work can help us assess

and briefs. The third used a structured

in turn be useful for assessing if they’re

whether that is true.” It might also help

reading of the three documents, includ-

behaving as we want them to, and thinking

inform practicing attorneys about whether

ing a series of human judgments about the

about how we might respond if they are

certain features of briefs tend to resonate

extent to which the opinions responded to

not,” concludes Oldfather. — BOM

more with the court.

the briefs.

“We are trying to develop another way

Marquette University

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