Komen's Cause Marketing Program Isn't "Finger-Lickin' Good"

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I want to love Komen's new cause marketing partnership with Kentucky Fried Chicken, Buckets for the Cure. I really do.

  • The partnership is a cause marketer's dream with 5,000 stores participating. Cause marketing programs work best with lots of locations and lots of foot traffic. KFC has both.
  • 50 cents of every bucket ordered by restaurant operators (interesting how the donation isn't triggered by customers buying buckets but by operators ordering them) during the promotion period (now through May 30th) will go to Komen.
  • Komen is guaranteed a cool million. But KFC is hoping to raise over $8 million, the largest single donation to a breast cancer cause.
  • The program also has lots of extras too, like pink buckets you can't miss and lids with calls to action to get involved.

Bear with me while I collect myself...heading toward the light...too beautiful, too wonderful.... ZZZAAAPPPP!

That's Scotty Henderson prodding me back to reality with his eye-opening post on Buckets for the Cure.

Sigh. It was lovely while it lasted. But, alas, Buckets for the Cure is a horrible promotion full of cause dissonance that strips it of charity and authenticity.

The Komen/KFC debacle is a warning to all cause marketers that money should never cloud our values, our goals or our common sense. As Scotty points out, the conflict between the fight against breast cancer that Komen champions and the fat-infested food that KFC sells is simply irreconcilable.

It's like Deadliest Catch sponsoring Sea World or Smith & Wesson funding a rifle range at Columbine High School.

With 2400 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.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh on KFC. After all, they do offer a grilled version of their chicken bucket that has fewer calories.

Chicken shit.

The same week as the Buckets for a Cure began, KFC rolled out the Double Down. Bacon and cheese wrapped in two fried chicken breasts. 540 calories, 32 grams of fat and 1,380 milligrams of sodium.

Come on, KFC, are you really saying you care about the well being of women with this beast? Not true, retorts the Colonel. The target demo for the Double Down is men! So we should feel better knowing that the Double Down is a widow maker?

Perched on my soapbox, let me conclude.

Why did Komen do it? For the money, of course, which will never be enough to educate women and others on the perils of fat-farms like KFC. Komen knew they would ruffle a few feathers with this promotion, but soon all will be quiet in the hen house.

This is America where money can justify any crime, wash away any guilt, sanitize any reputation and rationalize any bad idea.

As a cause marketer who loves to win and close deals, I understand why Komen wanted to work with KFC. The lure of seven-figures. The promotion. It's intoxicating. You talk yourself into it. Would I have advocated a similar partnership within my organization? Maybe. But thankfully my colleagues and superiors have better judgement than I do. Komen, at least in this instance, has been blinded by its ambitions.

It's a story as old as humankind. It's when fool is most consumed by success that a fox steals in to the hen house.