Didn’t think that fast food cures cancer? Well think again, as now there are pink buckets for the cure.
Last week another linkage between the promotion of unhealthy food for a big box health charity made headlines and generated buzz in the blogsphere. This time it was KFC which launched its ” Buckets for the Cure” promotion, a fundraiser for Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The main company website now sports a hot pink background, and on the Buckets site, the Colonel is now pink, and there is an image of the pink serving bucket The buckets feature photos of real life breast cancer survivors. Here’s how the promo works :
Participating KFC franchise locations will be selling specially designed pink buckets of grilled and Original Recipe chicken. KFC has pledged 50 cents to Komen for every pink bucket ordered by its restaurant operators during the promotion period, with a minimum donation of $1 million and a goal to raise more than $8 million.
Fine print at the bottom of the company website further explains that the funds to be donated to Komen come directly from the purchases of pink buckets by KFC franchise owners, who buy them for their stores, between April 5-May 9, 2010, and that “Customer purchases of KFC buckets during the promotion will not directly increase the total contribution.” The KFC Pink Buckets website urges viewers to ” Help Make the Largest Single Donation to End Breast Cancer Forever “, and links to a Komen online donation form, which sports the pink Colonel Saunders logo. In other words, just buying a pink bucket of KFC chicken does not generate a donation to Komen, although consumers may think it does.
KFC materials do not explain exactly how the corporate donation to Komen will end breast cancer, merely talks about need to raise awareness, and links out to the Komen site. Commentary about the promotion around the web ranges from praise for a new way to help “the cause,” to increasingly, critical analysis of why promoting consumption of high fat, high sodium, high calorie food is problematic for health in general, and for cancer prevention in particular, including breast cancer.
One of the most cogent deconstructions of what’s wrong with the campaign from both health and cause marketing viewpoints was an article by Scott Henderson entitled Cause Dissonance: KFC and Komen Buckets for the Cure, on his Rally the Cause blog. Using easy-to obtain data, Scott explained a few facts:
Here’s what I learned from KFC.com (which currently features the Double Down wrapped in pink):
- KFC lists its nutrition facts based on individual pieces of chicken, not the bucket.
- Buckets come in 8, 12, and 15 pieces. You can choose between original recipe, extra crispy, spicy, or grilled. And you get wings, thighs,drumsticks, and breasts.
- Assuming you like original recipe and buy a standard 8 piece bucket for your pink bucket, you’ll bring home 1,600 calories and 90 grams of fat. If extra crispy is more your style, say hello to 2,380 calories and 160 grams of fat.
- If four people split the bucket, you’ll average 400 calories and 22.5 grams of fat (original recipe) or 595 calories and 40 grams of fat (extra crispy).
- Calories from fat in the pink bucket is 49% (original recipe) and 60% (extra crispy).
Then I searched for daily nutrition guides and found this from the American Heart Association:
As word of the pink bucket hype spreads, it’s encouraging to see that there is increasing awareness of how inappropriate this campaign is, and that it’s not just about KFC finding a new way to promote unhealthy food or improving its corporate image, but that Komen is equally to blame for choosing this alliance. Hopefully the critical reviews mean that the work of groups like Breast Cancer Action , one of the first to sound the alarm about problematic pink cause marketing , is bearing fruit. BCA has held its Think Before You Pink campaign each October ( Breast Cancer Awareness Month) since 2002, to educate the public about what’s really going on. BCA is notable as one of only a handful of independent disease organizations–it accepts no industry funding– which also addresses social and environmental issues about the illness, plus offers patient services. Visitors to the BCA website can now add their signatures to a letter to Tell KFC and Komen to stop the pinkwashing!
This pinkwashing is especially egregious because KFC, like most fast food chains, is overwhelmingly present in communities that have poor health outcomes. Susan G. Komen for the Cure knows that social inequities affect breast cancer mortality rates. Given this disconnect, we are especially disturbed by this partnership. It’s preposterous, and we have to tell them to stop.
Hat tip for alerting me to this new campaign goes to fellow Seattleite Jeanne Sather, The Assertive Cancer Patient, who has been writing about the pink promotions for some time, and has held “How LOW Will Komen Go” contests for the past 3 years on her blog. Readers submitted entries with illustrating the most offensive pink products being hyped each October. You can read the mind-boggling entries, many complete with photos, for 2007, 2008, and 2009 plus extensive reader commentary. While not all the products now on the market are tied to Komen campaigns, the organization is now synonymous with pink ribbon cause marketing, which itself has a controversial history.
And why my mention of emesis basins? As a cancer survivor, the first thing that came to my mind when I heard about the pink buckets, was the image of those hospital puke pans ( taking a little liberty on the shape) which I’d used so often. And their large-sized cousins, the wash basins often needed for their greater volume, are frequently pink. The pink buckets promotion made me feel sick to my stomach.