First came yellow ribbons - used by many as a visible act of remembrance for an absent loved-one (since the dawn of time?). Today's jingoistic News of the World jumps on the yellow ribbon bandwagon by launching "a great Yellow Ribbon campaign to mark the nation's pride and support for Our Heroes in the Gulf—and to wish them a safe return home. We want everyone in Britain to pin a Yellow Ribbon to their chest—and we have enough to provide one FREE to EVERY reader. To get yours, complete the coupon." Must be a light news day in the Gulf. That or Rupert Murdoch's after an honorary knighthood.
Later came red ribbons - the global symbol of solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS. The red ribbon was launched in 1991, into an America already full of yellow ribbons being worn to remember soldiers fighting in the Gulf War. The red ribbon campaign has been a huge success, raising awareness across the world and saving lives along the way. In the same year came pink ribbons - the symbol for breast cancer awareness. So far, so worthy.
And then came ribbon overload. Every campaign, big or small, now wants its own ribbon. Yellow, red and pink may have been taken, but charities and pressure groups still scrabble around madly to hijack whatever colours or combinations of colours remain unclaimed. There's a fascinating list of online ribbon campaigns here, and a very clever "Ribbon-o-matic" here to help you to create a unique ribbon logo for your new campaign. Sadly however, the impact of ribbons on the public consciousness has now been diluted through serious overuse.