There has been a whole lot of uproar lately with announcement of the Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Buckets for The Cure Campaign. A multitude of cause marketing organizations and people and organizations have weighed in on this. Some of the uproar stems from the disconnect of a fast food chain that sells a product laden with fat, promoting a cause such as breast cancer research. Blame is being hurdled on both sides, it seems more so at the Susan B. Komen organization, for “selling out” to the potential 8 million dollar contribution that KFC hopes to raise. KFC has offered the explanation that they can really make an impact on breast cancer awareness to the communities where they are located
Finding a cure for breast cancer is a noble cause, truly worthy of partnering with a suitable corporate sponsor that can have impact on beating this disease. However, when a sponsor chooses one cause over another, it should be based on a well thought out strategy that aligns with the corporate values and citizenship objectives.
Whether KFC or Komen win or lose in this deal, there are, for certain, other “big losers,” (and we are definitely not talking about weight), in this whole scenario. The money that KFC is spending, or donating, could have gone to causes that are quite literally closer to home and where it could have had more direct impact. And the partnerships that KFC could have forged with these more needy causes in their own backyards could have the potential of eliciting positive publicity and an increase in consumer participation.
Take for example my closest KFC - I can identify more than a handful of causes that are experiencing major shortfalls of funding and support, that are within a five mile radius: a homeless shelter, a food bank, conservation/environmental non-profits, a bankrupt K thru college educational system, a scholarship/mentor program for low income students, a local community hospital (which, by the way, has a major breast cancer treatment center), programs for the aging, programs for immigrant day-workers, and many more.
Supporting programs such as these at the local level, or finding an umbrella organization that serves individual communities, won’t end up with a cute pink bucket. But it could provide buckets of paint of any color and other critical items for schools, hospitals, homeless shelters. That’s the choice KFC has made, and the real losers are the communities around them.