What’s Wrong With This Cause Marketing Paper Icon? Let Me Count the Ways

A friend recently found the paper icon at the left at a bowling alley in metropolitan Salt Lake City, Utah, where I live and asked my opinion.

Where to start?
  • There was, my friend said, no indication in the bowling alley of who the benefiting charity is, aside from the pink ribbon, which denotes the fight against breast cancer.
  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure would almost certainly consider the phrase “Bowl for The Cure” a copyright and/or a trademark violation. If this were a Komen campaign it would carry their trademarked version of the pink ribbon. The icon would also be a darn-sight more sophisticated.
  • There’s no identifying marks on the paper icon except the pink ribbon.
  • There’s no explanation on the back of the paper icon; just acres of unused white space.
  • Speaking of size it’s nearly 10-inches high and 4-inches wide at its widest point. It could easily be two-thirds its present size and be just as effective.
  • The paper stock is pretty heavy, I’d say at least 80-pound. It doesn’t need to be any heavier than about 60-pound.
  • Shaping it like a bowling pin means a custom die-cut, which is another unnecessary expense. It could just as easily be a rectangle.
  • There’s two colors… the pink and the black… which is fine by me. But they probably could have gotten away with just pink, which would have represented another slight cost savings.
  • The two typefaces, the script and sans serif at the top look cheap to me.
  • Overall, the icon is rather bland looking.
  • When paper icons are shaped after the sponsor rather than the cause, as in this one shaped like a bowling pin, it usually strikes me as being too self-referential to the sponsor and self-defeating. In this way the halo is reflecting light from the sponsor to the cause, rather than the cause to the sponsor.
  • It appeared this month, February 2011, rather than during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, when it could ride the coattails of thousands of other pink ribbon promotions. I assume the intent was to run the campaign near Valentine's Day. But the connection between breast cancer and Valentine's Day is tenuous at best.
The analytical among you know the biggest problem is the first one. As powerful and versatile as the pink ribbon is, it nonetheless requires identification with a specific breast cancer cause to be fully effective.
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