White, Black, Pink, Green Purple … Why Are People Putting Colours as Their Facebook Statuses??

Facebook bra

Picture this;

Whilst I am watching some week night TV with a glass of red wine after a hard day at work, I browse at my Facebook status update feed on my Blackberry. The topic choice seems to be inundated with one word statements of colour. Yes, a substantial amount of my Facebook friends are quoting different colours as their status updates. The majority are partial to ‘white’ at least that is what I noticed.

I assumed these bizarre actions were symbolic of the British nation’s fascination with the snow we have been receiving in the last few days… white being the colour of snow etc….

The Answer

Unbeknown to me until I reached work this morning, this heavy shower of colour themed status updates on Facebook was the making of a clever viral marketing ploy, rumoured to have been designed to raise awareness of breast cancer. It seems the idea was for people, namely females, to state the colour of the bra they were wearing, but males were getting involved too.
Right okay, so… I have discovered that most of my friends wear white underwear then…

I Tweet searched ‘Facebook colour’ ‘Breast cancer awareness’ and similar terms to find a plethora of interesting tweets confirming that this was in fact the reason.

How exactly does this help Breast Cancer Awareness?

A question many people were asking across Twitter is “I don’t see how telling all your Facebook friends your bra colour is helping breast cancer”?

Good point! But we need to look outside the box to see the positive impact of this from a PR and Marketing perspective. After all (although the altruistic nature of charities can be debated) the aim of Breast Cancer charities is (or should be) to increase awareness of breast cancer so that the public can spot the signs early and seek medical help. Therefore if the Twitter searches alone is anything to go by, it seems that my colleagues and I were not the only ones out there intrigued to find out what was going on. The social media conversations surrounding breast cancer and Facebook colour status questions have exploded. A quick search on Google further confirms that thousands of us were posting on forums and discussion boards in desperate need to find out why our friends were telling us what colour bra they were wearing.

So whilst this is not curing breast cancer or directly calling people to donate money, it has certainly created a big hype and awareness surrounding the issue… and in the words of one great twitter user, “the fact we tweeted & asked bare Qs raised our awareness!”

What does this mean?

It seems the most effective campaigns are user led rather than brand led. If you notice there is no information to say this viral was started by a cancer charity (in fact rumours on the web say it was started by a group of girls who wanted to confuse their male friends!) who it was started by and its purpose is irrelevant. It sparked the online conversation about a topic and this is the effect that more and more brands are looking to do via social media outlets.

This is not the first and will not be the last example of the power of social media, only two weeks ago we last witnessed the unrivalled power of Social Media, when Rage Against the machine beat XFactor winner Joe to Christmas number one (check out Henry’s blog post on The Rage Against The Machine Facebook Campaign).

Measurable effects of the colour campaign

I will update this blog post tomorrow with some statistics from Google insights to see how search terms were affected during this campaign.

Additional Information

Check out the Guardian’s Review about why 2009 was the year of Facebook: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/dec/28/facebook-users-social-network

Sam Allen

A strategic thinker who ensures that Zeta and all of our clients keep striving forward. A marketing expert addicted to all things digital.

  • claire

    Why is it always breast cancer that gets the main publicity. I wasnt really interested in what colour bra people were wearing and I am sorry but it doesnt raise my awareness as its heavily publicised anyway. It just seems like another person trying to start a load of “chain statuses” or trying to get the biggest group started – I am starting one for colon cancer and see how popular that will be – bet no takers

  • Ellie

    about the men doing the colour in their status’. Wouldn’t that be for prostate cancer? It is great for the support… just kinda funny. lol