As most of you are probably aware by now, KFC recently launched its “Buckets for the Cure” campaign – through which it hopes to raise $8.5 million for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. This amount would be the largest single donation ever made in the fight against breast cancer. To date, KFC has already raised more than $2.3 million through the campaign. On the surface, it seems like a fantastic idea. Who can argue with joining in the fight against breast cancer? And yet, the campaign has spawned numerous critical articles and blog posts. Most of them argue that there is simply too much of a disconnect between KFC and Komen. As Joe Waters, author of the cause marketing-related blog “Selfish Giving,” points out in his April 20 post, “it’s like ‘Deadliest Catch’ sponsoring Sea World.” KFC is known primarily for selling high-calorie, high-in-fat fried chicken. In fact, the restaurant rolled out its newest offering, the “Double Down” sandwich, around the same time as its Buckets for the Cure campaign. The Double Down features two fried (or grilled) chicken breasts served in place of bread, with cheese and bacon serving as the “meat.” And yet, obesity is known to be a major risk factor when it comes to cancer.
So, as some suggest, is KFC trying to “buy” goodwill through this campaign without genuinely being committed to the cause? Or is the company truly well-intentioned but unfortunately a bit misguided in its cause marketing efforts? I choose to believe the latter…
Nevertheless, as “Rally the Cause” author Scott Henderson discusses in his April 16 blog post on the matter, the campaign is definitely a prime example of “cause dissonance.” The contradiction between KFC’s product and Komen’s mission is just too great.
Looking at it purely from a cause marketing perspective, KFC could have found other causes to support that made more strategic sense. In my blog post from March 3 on the subject of cause marketing, I talked about various factors that companies should consider when determining which cause(s) to support. One of those is making sure the cause aligns with the company’s own product or mission. So, in the case of KFC, a couple of ideas come to mind. Many KFC restaurants are located in urban areas. Perhaps the company could have committed to building safe parks and green spaces in the neighborhoods it serves. Or, it already has a scholarship program, The KFC Colonel’s Scholars Program. Perhaps it would make sense to build on that foundation and raise funds related to improving public education.
We’d like to know what you think. Should KFC have chosen a cause that didn’t pose such a disconnect in light of its primary product? Or should it be lauded for its Buckets for the Cure?