Sharing your bra color on Facebook was a scam. But with a beautiful outcome.

I’m sure you noticed last week that women started posting a one word color on their Facebook status. My wife even posted hers. I remarked about how it’s funny the useless things people do in order to “spread awareness” for a cause. Well it appears the whole meme was a scam. A silly, lighthearted, harmless and somewhat fun scam, but a scam nonetheless.

It started with an e-mail, vaguely attributed to several different breast cancer groups. It encouraged women to post their bra color, but not tell men what the color meant. One of the groups credited was the Susan G. Komen Foundation. John Hammarley, spokesman for the foundation told the Washington Post, “It would be nice to claim credit for this, but we really have done nothing.”

It wasn’t long before women were posting “pink,” “white,” “nude.” and other colors in their status from Philadelphia to Tokyo. The meme quickly spread all over the world. Individuals in Nigeria, Spain, India perpetuated the scam with translations. In fact, in the UK a version of the meme used the British spelling of “colour.”

Over the weekend someone even decided to create a spinoff meme: “URGENT! FACEBOOK VIRUS ALERT,” the subsequent mass status update reads. “An e-mail recently went out to women asking them to post the color of their BRA. THIS IS A VIRUS. To fix it, you must remove your bra, then go to > Settings > Enable Webcam > Record Movie. Please re-post to your status message.”

But there is an upside to this. The Susan G. Komen Foundation had been struggling to develop their Social Media program — and this meme gave them the support they needed to lift their sagging membership in their Facebook group. On Friday morning membership in their Facebook group had only 135 fans. As of this moment, Monday morning, their group has blossomed to a healthy 141, 602.

In way, I think this scam is a beautiful thing. (No, not in the debaucherous way.) It’s a beautiful real-life example of how a little creativity can use the power of social media to create a spark that ignites people to participate in a concept or idea. It’s the kind of thing we do every day.

You can make a donation to the Susan G. Komen Foundation here.

5 Comments

  1. January 11, 2010

    Good post. I don’t know if you get or lose points for the pun on remarks about Komen’s Social Media Program.

    While I agree that this could bring a boost to their FB following, I will be very curious to see what this does for real interaction. Of all the people duped into this “Slactivism” how many will click their links, comment on or share their posts? Better still, how many will convert to new donors or advocates?

  2. January 11, 2010

    Trust me, you got off easy on the puns, Christian. :-)

    I think you’re right to wonder about the effectiveness. I think that those who just posted the color of their bra on the request to “raise awareness” aren’t going to help the cause of breast cancer in any measurable way. But those who were curious enough to search out the source of the meme and end up joining the real Komen Facebook group may prove to be useful.

  3. January 12, 2010

    Another great example of Viral Marketing and the power of epidemics. In this case a good cause epidemic.
    This is not new in this world. Viral marketing boosted Hush Puppies brand, lowered the crime rates in NYC and even helped our revolution to become U.S.A.
    But now everything is just so more easily done and noticeable.
    Even if they didn’t had anything to do with it. It definitely made a huge impact on their cause and future. Who ever started this – Well done, you just did the world a huge favor!

    Cheers.

  4. January 23, 2010

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  5. January 24, 2010

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