THE COLOUR OF MONEY

By Mike Welsh

Pink popped up before my eyes twice last weekend. Pink Viagra (for women) and the “Pink Dollar“.

Back in the day when pink was no more than just an embarrassing laundry “run” in your father’s navy blue overalls, I met a man called Brown who became a Green.

Dr Bob Brown was his name and he was the weekend locum at my local medical practice.

Already an activist and still fresh from studying Gray’s anatomy, he’d soon be the target of taunts such as a commo red and too yellow to fight in a war. It was Tasmania and it was the 1970s. Boys wore blue and girls wore pink.

Even when Bob Brown came out as a gay man “pink” did not enter into it. And anyone talking about a “pink dollar” was considered “not the full quid.”

Later, during the Franklin River campaign Dr Bob was incarcerated at Her Majesty’s Risdon Prison on Hobart’s Eastern Shore which is known as “The Pink Palace”.

Now it seems “pink washing” is a horse of a completely different colour. Apparently some colours are more valuable to marketers than others. According to media reports, a concerted push for equality in colours in marketing is gathering momentum; the rainbow flag is being co-opted. These reports highlight a concentrated effort to snare a greater slice of the pink dollar with many corporations setting up internal “pride” groups to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) staff and customers.

Marketers need to be careful lest they offend other colours. Colours have feelings too.

And before you label me homophobic, I was once the proud owner of a very loud pink 1972 Ford Cortina. Though I chose to refer to my Cortina as Cerise or Vatican Pink. Pretentious. Don’t judge me.

The latest argument being without major corporate backers of “pink” community events such as Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival and Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras might fold.

But there is the accusation of “pink washing” – cashing in on rising public support for equality by appearing gay friendly.

Has not pink already been cleverly hijacked by an Australian fast bowler to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer??

Colour has become a nightmare for marketers. Take the gay couple in their 70s I met in Coffs Harbour who’d hitched their Viscount to the Nissan in Melbourne last year and vowed to only head north for the remainder of their lives…Pink Grey Nomads driving into the Wide Blue Yonder.

Watch out Beige, you’re not safe either

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