When Susan G. Komen for the Cure and KFC, the fast-food chain best known for its buckets of “finger lickin’ good” fried chicken, decided to start a new fund-raising effort, they probably never expected the deal would cause so much indigestion.
With its Buckets for the Cure promotion, KFC will donate 50 cents to Komen for every bucket of chicken sold in more than 5,000 outlets through May 9.
The promotion, which started April 5, guarantees that Komen will receive at least $1-million, and up to $8.5-million, depending on sales. For the promotion, KFC is selling chicken in pink buckets that bear the names of breast-cancer survivors and other women who died from the disease. To date, according to KFC, it has raised nearly $1.8-million.
But the money and commemorative touches have done nothing to quell criticism about the ties between the charity and a company that sells fat-laden foods, which have been found to predispose women to breast cancer. Some donors have said they will no longer support the charity as a result of the deal.
“We’ve accepted what Komen told us is their brand (women’s health), and this partnership flies in the face of that,” writes Nancy Schwartz in Getting Attention, her nonprofit marketing blog.
Scott Henderson, in his Rally the Cause blog, scours KFC’s own nutrition listings, which show a high caloric and fat content for its products. He contrasts that with information on Komen’s Web site, citing studies showing increased risk of cancer among women who gain 20 or more pounds after age 18.
While many people “might focus their outrage or contempt on KFC for this [promotion], the same scrutiny needs to be put on Susan G. Komen for the Cure,” he writes. “How much is that $8.5-million worth to the cause, knowing the health damage these pink buckets will cause?”
“It’s like … Smith & Wesson funding a rifle range at Columbine High School,” writes Joe Waters, director of cause marketing at Boston Medical Center in his blog, Selfish Giving. “With 2,400 calories and 160 grams of fat, a bucket of extra-crispy KFC should include the wig you’ll need for cancer treatments after eating this crap for years.”
Readers of the blogs have added written comments saying the promotion is a big mistake. Some say they are Komen donors who, because of the deal, will stop giving to the charity.
Asked to comment on the controversy, Andrea Raider, Komen’s director of marketing and communications, admits that the charity has received some e-mail messages criticizing the KFC promotion. “But for the most part, reaction in the general public has been positive,” she says.
Ms. Raider says that one of Komen’s motivations for doing the promotion is that it allows the charity to get its message to women in neighborhoods it normally doesn’t reach. Nine hundred of KFC’s fast-food restaurants, she says, are in cities or towns where the charity does not have an affiliate.
What’s your take? Should Komen have entered into this deal?