KFC, Dairy Queen Show Nonprofits How to Raise Money at the Register [VIDEO]

Two weeks ago I wrote about Maggie Keenan, a graduate of my Six Figure Cause Marketing Program and happy owner of Cause Marketing for Dummies. She's launched a pinup program with her KFC and Dairy Queen stores in southeast Georgia that's doing very well. I've asked Maggie to stop by and update us in the comments section of this post.

Maggie was kind enough to record this interview with some of the key people involved in the program. These wonderful supporters talk about so many of the things that are important to a successful cause marketing program I just had to share it with you!

  • A sincere commitment to the program's success.
  • A recognition that local businesses should support local causes.
  • Each store involved in the program has a tangible goal to achieve.
  • Each location has an in-store ambassador to motivate and track employee success.
  • Store managers volunteered at a Salvation Army to see firsthand where the money they raise will go.
  • The importance of THE ASK. Customers won't support the program unless you ask them!
  • Incentives for employees as a thank you for their efforts.

Check it out. I bet you'll learn something. I did!

6-Figure Cause Marketing Grad Uses Pinups, QR Codes to Help Homeless

I love when students put their education to good use. Maggie Keenan, a branding and cause marketing consultant in Savannah, Georgia, is a graduate of my Six Figure Cause Marketing course, which shows nonprofits and businesses how to develop and execute an effective and lucrative cause marketing program.

Maggie gets an A+ for her latest effort: a regional cause marketing program to support the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless, Inc.Hodges Management Company, which owns the local KFCs, KFC/TacoBells and DQ Grill & Chills, approached the Housing Authority about doing something to help the homeless this holiday season.

Thanks to Maggie, they came up with a great campaign: Dishing Out Meals: Fighting to End Hunger & Homelessness in Our Community.

You can read all about Maggie's outstanding cause marketing program on her blog. But let me take a moment to mention some of the things I really love about it.

It embraces the easiest and most lucrative type of cause marketing: point of sale. The pin-up below sold for a buck. While there are other types of cause marketing Maggie could have recommended to the partners, point of the sale is truly the best, especially for local programs like this one. I've raised as much as $300,000 in just a few weeks with pinups.

It taps every asset the business had for giving. Realizing that the pinup wasn't the best option for drive thru customers, Maggie created a value card with a QR code that takes customers directly to the Homeless Authority website for more information or to make a donation. Great thinking, Maggie! [One suggestion: The mobile donation page isn't optimized for smartphones. Check out what my friend Bob Jones at Give.mobi can do to make this a better experience and raise you more money!]

It battled indifference and apathy from the outset. Have you ever been asked to buy a pinup but the total lack of interest from the cashier convinced you that he or she didn't really care if you did? Hodges Management Company did their best to ensure that apathy and indifference wouldn't be part of this program. All general managers spent a Saturday learning and volunteering for the cause, an experience they'll share with their employees.

I'm proud of everyone involved in this program, and I'm eager to see the results when it's done. Most of all, I'm really proud of Maggie Keenan. She's a great student, asked lots of good questions and kept in touch with me to make sure she didn't make any of the many, many mistakes I made in my first programs.

Congratulations, Maggie! I'm sure this won't be that last post I'll write on one of your successful cause marketing campaigns!

Lessons from the KFC, Juvenile Diabetes Cause Marketing Fizzle

It's been an interesting week since I wrote my post on the cause marketing promotion between Kentucky Fried Chicken and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I learned a lot, particularly about Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. I plan to put my new found education to good use in the coming months. But there are lessons for everyone from this cause marketing promotion.

For Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

  1. You can distinguish between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes all you want but many average Americans like me will - correctly or incorrectly - view a soda promotion to benefit kids with diabetes as the wrong type of cause marketing for a voluntary health organization. Even critics of my original post who hammered me day after day for my lack of knowledge of juvenile diabetes and strove to disconnect the genetic form of diabetes from sugary drinks conceded they would not have signed off on this promotion if they worked at KFC or JDRF. This Titanic should have never left port.
  2. Lost in the reports on this promotion, including mine, was that it involved one KFC location in Utah. JDRF reported that the franchise owner had a personal connection with Type 1 diabetes. This is just one example of how causes and companies have to monitor every partnership to make sure it passes the "smell test" - or in this case the taste test. Yes, even when they involve one store. Questionable programs - despite intentions - spread like a spilled mega jug on the internet and through social media networks.

For Kentucky Fried Chicken

  1. I hope KFC will review the recommendations Megan and I outlined for them in our last post. The main takeaway is that you need to disconnect your cause marketing from your menu. Donating money to health causes based on sales of fried chicken and soda is a recipe The Colonel would never have approved. There are many good ways for fast serve restaurants to support causes. You needn't look any further than McDonald's program for Ronald McDonald House Charities, White Castles work on behalf of Autism Speaks and Popeye's coupon book to benefit MDA. Also check out the program Wendy's is running this Father's Day weekend to fund adoptions.

Note to both both KFC and JDRF: The goal of cause marketing is to increase the favorability of both brands with their respective target audiences. Where ever you come down on whether this promotion was good or bad, right or wrong, surely there are better ways to achieve your goals than a "mega jug" promotion for kids with diabetes.

For Selfishgiving.com

  1. This has been both a good and bad week. It's been good because so many people have visited my blog and I got so many comments here and at The Huffington Post. Folks, that's what every blogger lives for! But it's been bad because my post was a catalyst for so many nasty and mean comments that had nothing to do with cause marketing or evaluating the merits or drawbacks of this promotion. I guess the ancients were correct: The gods sell all things at a fair price. I'm looking forward to better conversations, albeit with fewer readers. The next time this happens I'll be better prepared.
  2. The whole debate--and some of the questions people had about the accuracy of my post--got me thinking more about my responsibilities as a blogger. I do research my posts, but not as much as a journalist would. I don't consider myself a journalist. I'm a blogger. This means when I write I'm biased and have a personal perspective on my topic. Beyond cause marketing advice, I certainly don't claim to be a source of news and information on anything else, particularly diabetes as some commentators claimed I should be. I guess I feel that my readers have to tolerate a lower standard of reporting because I just write a blog. But being timely, engaging and provocative without being accurate, professional and responsible is not a recipe for success. I wouldn't want anyone to say the stuff I'm serving is worse than Kentucky Fried Chicken's cause marketing.

KFC Shows They Don't Give a Cluck. This Time with Juvenile Diabetes


I just can't understand what Kentucky Fried Chicken is thinking with its latest cause marketing program. This picture says it all. Buy a HALF-GALLON of soda - with 800 calories from 56 spoonfuls of sugar - for $2.99 and a buck goes to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

I'm actually more astonished that JDRF would sign on for such a pact. KFC showed it's a bird of a different feather last year with Buckets for the Cure and the dreadful Double Down. It's no surprise to me that they deep fried their reputation again, covering it with a disgusting, unappealing exterior that few can digest.

But JDRF should have known better. I Googled the partnership and some Dallas KFC's were selling JDRF's signature sneaker pinups, which seems a more appropriate venture as it's not directly connected to KFC's menu.

I've said this before: I don't have a problem with nonprofits and fast-serve chains doing cause marketing. What I do have a problem with is when fast serve chains like KFC encourage consumers to buy products that directly contribute to the health conditions - in this case diabetes - they are supposedly trying to prevent by partnering with the cause in the first place.

It's like if Philip Morris partnered with Smokey the Bear and donated a portion of all cigarette sales to conservation groups working to stop wildfires - fires that are sometimes started by careless smokers!

It's simply that ridiculous!

What was JDRF thinking? I'm not sure, but I'm calling them today to see if I can find out!

[Update 6/11/11: JDRF emailed me a response to my blog post and gave me permission to post it on my blog. See the comments section.]

Why White Castle's Cause Marketing is Better than KFC's

It was only a matter of time before it happened. In some ways I'm surprised it even took a week. It began with this tweet from fellow cause marketer Steve Drake:


White Castle is selling a hamburger and onion scented candle in their restaurants and online for ten bucks with proceeds (good luck finding out how much, but they say the promotion will raise $50,000) going to Autism Speaks. The candle has been a huge hit. It's sold out online and sales at restaurants have been brisk as well.

Shortly after Steve's tweet, Estrella Rosenberg said what a lot of us must have been thinking:

So should White Castle too be plucked clean and boiled as KFC was?

I don't think so. Despite some shortcomings, like a basic lack of information on the program and specific numbers on how much of each candle sale goes to Autism Speaks, this smelly candle is no Buckets for the Cure.

There are the important differences between the two programs.

The White Castle promotion doesn't try to cure an ill by contributing to it. It's just candle. A gross smelling one, in my opinion. But White Castle isn't trying to help those with autism by selling a product that just might contribute to their condition in the first place. While I did see a tweet or two about the connection between autism and gluten products that WC carries (or rather the gluten-free products it doesn't carry), the link isn't as offensive and distasteful as the connection between KFC and cancer.

The White Castle promotion is for loyalists. If you're not already a White Castle customer that loves the smell of hamburger and onion, how many of these candles will you buy? WC's latest cause marketing effort for Autism Speaks is for existing burger fanatics. Conversely, KFC's Buckets for the Cure with its major television and online advertising campaign is working hard to bring "pink" supporters into the chicken coop. White Castle is simply giving their most loyal customers a chance to support a good cause, and they're not asking them to eat another hamburger--and even go into one of their restaurants--to do it.

The scale is modest. As mentioned above, KFC's Buckets for the Cure is a huge promotion. White Castle's isn't. It appears that most of the candles are sold online and supplies are limited at stores. And with a goal of raising $50,000, WC's ambitions are modest compared to KFC, which hopes to raise over $8 million for Komen. Which donation will do the greatest good? It may appear KFC. But many, many millions more will be spent by cancer organizations educating consumers on preventing cancer through proper nutrition. And how many more millions in donations and partnerships will Komen lose because of the KFC fiasco? Who really did help their cause more?

The key is that White Castle maintains its distance. It doesn't connect its unhealthy food with a health cause as KFC does. Nor did WC choose to highlight its calorically dense food, as KFC did with the Double Down, the same week it promoted its involvement with a health cause.

Perhaps WC took a page from McDonald's play book. As kid I remember McDonald's raising money for charities like the Muscular Dystrophy Association. But later it wisely stepped back from directly supporting health causes and focused instead on its own charity, The Ronald McDonald House, which offers families a place to stay together when a child is receiving medical treatment.

Fast food restaurants can and should be involved with causes. It's all about fit and execution. Mike Swenson, a mentor of mine at the cause marketing consultancy Barkley in Kansas City probably summarized it best.

What do you think? Is White Castle's cause marketing really a symbol of  "purity" and "strength" as its founders intended when they chose their name? Or does this promotion belong in the bucket of fast food cause marketing programs that didn't work?

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


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.